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Health A to Z

How Quality Healthcare Is Everyone’s Right

Samya Ghosal

Healthcare is a basic human right.

The right to health is one of the most fundamental human rights, which is mutually agreed upon internationally by all nations. It clearly states that everyone has the right to the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health without discrimination. This comprises of all kinds of medical services, sanitation, proper food, healthy living arrangements and working conditions and a clean environment. 

The freedoms and entitlements included in this right are-

  • The right to control one’s health and body and the right to be from any non-consensual interference. Healthcare should be publicly available and should be financed publicly and equitably. 
  • There should be a system of health protection that provides everyone the opportunity to enjoy the highest attainable standards of health.

This right guarantees that hospitals, clinics, medicines and healthcare professionals must be accessible, available, acceptable and should of good quality. Quality healthcare should be available to everyone on an equitable basis as and when needed. 

The standards of the human right to health

Any healthcare system designed under this act must follow the below-mentioned standards-

  • Universal access- Access to healthcare must be universal and equitable. It should be affordable for everyone and comprehensive enough. It should be physically accessible to everyone. 
  • Availability- Proper healthcare infrastructure such has well-equipped hospitals, healthcare facilities, trained professionals and pharmaceuticals must be available in all geographical areas and to all communities.
  • Acceptability and dignity- The services provided by healthcare institutions must respect the dignity and strive to provide culturally acceptable care. They should be available and responsive to the needs based on gender, age, culture and the different ways of life. Ethics of operation and professional confidentiality should be maintained. 
  • Quality- This refers to all healthcare processes being of sufficient quality and being carried out in an ethical, standardized and patient-friendly manner. 

Apart from these standards, the right to healthcare follows certain principles that not only apply to this but all human rights. Accessibility to quality healthcare should not involve any kind of discrimination based on age, sex, income, national origin, sexuality, religion, language or social status. It should also be transparent meaning that all types of health information should be easily accessible which will empower people and allow them to make better healthcare choices. Institutions that provide or finance healthcare should keep all their operations transparent. There should be an opportunity for participation by individuals and organizations to play an active role in the field of healthcare. There should be accountability on the part of companies and public agencies associated with healthcare. There should be clearly defined regulations and monitoring of compliance. 

The right to quality healthcare as an act is also more focused on the disadvantaged and marginalized populations. These communities are also exposed to greater risks of illnesses and the inequalities suffered by them are disproportionate. Providing proper treatment, access to medicine and rehabilitation of these parts of the population is one of the prime objectives of this act.

WHO is globally responsible for upholding this right and its values. The right to good health allows states to follow a legal obligation to provide the highest standards of health to all its citizens. 

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