At first glance, it might
seem misplaced to speak of health as a right when ever increasing
segments of the world's population are witnessing a steady degradation
in the state of their health, to the point where their very existence
Further, most of the world's disease like most of its death
results from the non-satisfaction of basic needs, the lack of,
and/or non-access to, sanitation, potable water and food being
surely the greatest and most pressing. The development of public
health in the nineteenth century in Europe and the United States
shows that the most significant interventions for the improvement
of the health of populations do not involve health services per
se. Rather, the realization of the right to health is dependent
on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights: food;
housing; hygiene; proper work conditions; the exercise of
various freedoms, in particular those associated with trade unions;
etc. It is also directly related to peace and security.
In other words, the preservation and promotion of health imply
more than just access to medical care and medicines.The iniquitous
international order responsible for widespread inequalities and
poverty prevents the realization of the right to health.
However, some thirty years ago already, the international community
seemed to have become aware of this situation and of the importance
of international cooperation if it were to be rectified,
and it declared: The existing gross inequality in the health
status of the people particularly between developed and developing
countries as well as within countries is politically, socially
and economically unacceptable and is, therefore, of common concern
to all countries.
Today, the situation is dramatically worse. It is indisputable
that the recognition of the right to health, such as it is expressed
in international instruments, is not enough for its realization
The affirmation of health as a human right and the definition
of its relation to other human rights are essential to clarify
the obligations of those variously involved in its realization.
Thus, this brochure, divided into three parts:
I. the right to health, a recognized right;
II. the right to health, an interdependent an indissociable right;
III. the implementation of the right to health.