HIFA and Human Rights

“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.”
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

The HIFA2015 campaign is grounded in the right to health and the right to receive safe, effective healthcare. Today, 1.3 billion people lack access to basic health care services. And many more are at risk of receiving poor quality care. A major contributing factor is lack of access to relevant, reliable healthcare information.

The World Health Organization defines Universal Health Coverage as “ensuring that all people have access to needed promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that people do not suffer financial hardship when paying for these services”.

Meeting the information needs of citizens and health professionals is a prerequisite for Universal Health Coverage. It is also an essential determinant of the Right to Health and the right to receive promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services according to need.

Boy with water

“The challenge is to ensure that everyone in the world can have access to clean, clear knowledge – a basic human right, and a public health need as important as access to clean, clear water, and much more easily achievable.”
Pang T et al. A 15th grand challenge for global public health. Lancet 2006; 367:284-286

Governments are obliged under international human rights law to make healthcare information available to citizens and health workers

From 2008 to 2012, HIFA members worked with faculty and students of the New York Law School to evaluate access to healthcare information under international human rights law. This included a thematic discussion on the HIFA forum, which is summarised here.

The findings were published in December 2012 as a White Paper: Access to Health Information Under International Human Rights Law. The paper considers whether and, if so, to what extent states are obligated under international treaty law to provide individuals, lay healthcare providers, professional healthcare providers, and policymakers with appropriate health information. The article concludes that health information is an essential component of many identified and established human rights. States party to treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights must provide and guarantee access to health information.

In February 2013 we launched HIFA-Watch to recognise and highlight actions by governments worldwide that either promote or restrict the availability of healthcare information.

We invite everyone to join HIFA2015 forum and help us to monitor progress towards a world where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare knowledge.

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
Martin Luther King Jr. in a speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights, 1966