(Public) Health and Human Rights in Practice
Posted: 20 Jun 2016 Last revised: 31 Aug 2016
Date Written: February 28, 2016
Public health ethics is pragmatic in practice, but uncertain in theory. Because the field of public health relies on law to define and carry out public activities, it is impossible to define a set of ethical principles unique to public health. Public health ethics must be encompassed within and consistent with a broader set of principles that define the power and limits of government institutions. The human right to health offers such a set of principles by requiring governments not only to respect individual human rights, but also, importantly, to protect people from harm from external sources and third parties, and to fulfill the health needs of the population. The human rights framework should be welcomed by the public health field as mirroring its overall goals to promote human flourishing.
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