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Health and Social Services
"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control." (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Paris 1948, art. 25)

"Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality."(Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Paris 1948, art. 22)

health.jpg Ill health causes and contributes to poverty by destroying livelihoods, reducing worker productivity, lowering educational achievement and limiting opportunities. Because poverty may lead to diminished access to medical care, increased exposure to environmental risks, and malnutrition, ill health is also often a consequence of poverty. Accordingly, ill health is both a cause and a consequence of poverty: sick people are more likely to become poor and the poor are more vulnerable to disease and disability.

The right to health is not to be understood as the right to be healthy: the State cannot provide protection against every possible cause of ill health. It is the right to the enjoyment of a variety of facilities, goods, services and conditions necessary for the realisation of the highest attainable standard of health. The right includes both health care and the underlying determinants of health, including access to potable water, adequate and safe food, adequate sanitation and housing, healthy occupational and environmental conditions, and access to health-related information and education.

The right to health contains both freedoms and entitlements. The freedoms include the right to control one's body, including reproductive health, and the right to be free from interference, such as freedom from torture and non-consensual medical treatment.

The entitlements include a system of health care and protection that is available, accessible, acceptable, and of good quality. Thus, the right to health implies that functioning public health and health care facilities, goods and services are available in sufficient quantity within a State. It also means that they are accessible to everyone without discrimination. Accessibility has a number of dimensions, including physical, information and economic accessibility. Thus, 'information accessibility' includes the right to seek, receive and impart information concerning health issues, subject to the right to have personal health data treated with confidentiality. 'Economic accessibility' means that health facilities, goods and services must be affordable for all. Further, all health facilities, goods and services must be acceptable (i.e. respectful of medical ethics and culturally appropriate, and of good quality.)

According to international human rights law, the generic right to health encompasses a number of more specific health rights including: the right to maternal, child and reproductive health; the right to healthy natural and workplace environments; the right to prevention, treatment and control of diseases; and the right to health facilities, goods and services.

Worldmap - regional implementationRegional Implementation
This right is addressed by our projects in the following regions:
  • Africa - 3 projects
  • Arab States - 1 project
  • Asia and the Pacific - 1 project

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