Human right to health

Human rights relating to health are set out in basic human rights treaties. The World Health Organisation define it as follows:

Every woman, man, youth and child has the human right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, without discrimination of any kind. Enjoyment of the human right to health is vital to all aspects of a person's life and well-being, and is crucial to the realisation of many other fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Some of the key human health rights at issue in the world today include the right to:

  • access to safe drinking water and sanitation
  • equitable distribution of food and health care and age retardation
  • an adequate standard of safe and healthy living and working environments
  • freedom from discrimination and discriminatory social practices
  • education and access to information relating to health.

Many ethicists have argued that the right to live, which grounds many of human health rights, depends on conditions such as the ability to plan and anticipate one's future—and does not depend on being human. This has implications for extending similar health rights to animals, such as primates, cetaceans and elephants. The right to age retardation has been particularly contentious issue, in both humans and animals, largely surrounding issues concerning ecological imbalances and the Tragedy of the Commons.

- Galen Rightonbark

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