Health as a human right

visionAs noted by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the WHO,

The right to health is relevant to all States: every State has ratified at least one international human rights treaty recognizing the right to health. Moreover, States have committed themselves to protecting this right through international declarations, domestic legislation and policies, and at international conferences.
The Right to Health PDF formatted document, Factsheet 31, p.1, OHCHR and WHO, undated

The above fact-sheet also provides a useful breakdown of different aspects of rights to health, describing the relationship between health and

  • Inclusive rights,
  • Freedoms (from non-consensual medical treatment, from torture and other cruel or degrading treatments or punishments)
  • Entitlements (to prevention, treatment and control of diseases; access to essential medicines; maternal, child and reproductive health; health-related education; participation; timely services)
  • Non-discrimination
  • Accessibility, acceptability and quality of services.

A wide range of factors, or "determinants of health" allow us to lead a healthy life, including

  • Safe drinking water and adequate sanitation
  • Safe food
  • Adequate nutrition and housing
  • Healthy working and environmental conditions
  • Health-related education and information
  • Gender equality.

Human rights in many of the above areas therefore also overlap with health-related human rights as also represented by this WHO diagram:
Health & human rights are central to preventing ill health by improving nutrition, education, freedoms and other rights
Promoting and protecting health and respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights are inextricably linked. (Source: Health and Human Rights Linkages PDF formatted document, from the WHO's Health and Human Rights section)

Based on these and related principles, most nations strive for universal health coverage.