A Culture of Health and Human Rights

Posted: 1 Dec 2016

See all articles by Wendy K. Mariner

Wendy K. Mariner

Boston University School of Law; Boston University School of Public Health

George J. Annas

Boston University School of Public Health

Date Written: August 17, 2016

Abstract

A culture of health can be seen as a social norm that values health as the nation’s priority or as an appeal to improve the social determinants of health. Better population health will require changing social and economic policies. Effective changes are unlikely unless health advocates can leverage a framework broader than health to mobilize political action in collaboration with non-health sector advocates. We argue that human rights, the dominant international source of norms for government responsibilities, provide this broader framework. Human rights, as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and explanatory treaties, require governments to assure their populations nondiscriminatory access to food, water, education, work, social security, and a standard of living adequate for health and well-being. The policies needed to realize human rights also improve population health, well-being, and equity. Aspirations for human rights are strong enough to endure beyond inevitable setbacks to specific causes.

Suggested Citation

Mariner, Wendy K. and Annas, George J., A Culture of Health and Human Rights (August 17, 2016). Health Affairs, Vol. 35, No. 11, November 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2871529

Wendy K. Mariner (Contact Author)

Boston University School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Boston University School of Public Health ( email )

715 Albany Street
Boston, MA 02118
United States
617-638-4626 (Phone)
617-414-1464 (Fax)

George J. Annas

Boston University School of Public Health ( email )

School of Public Health
715 Albany Street
Boston, MA 02118
United States
(617) 638-4626 (Phone)
(617) 414-1464 (Fax)

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