The Legal Determinants of Health: Harnessing the Power of Law for Global Health and Sustainable Development
The Lancet Commissions, Vol. 393, Issue 10183, 1857-1910, 2019 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)30233-8
Posted: 14 Sep 2020
Date Written: May 4, 2019
Health risks in the 21st century are beyond the control of any country. In an era of globalization, promoting public health and equity requires cooperation and coordination both within and among states. Law can be a powerful tool for advancing global health, yet it remains significantly underutilized and poorly understood. Working in partnership, public health lawyers and health professionals can become champions for evidence-based laws to ensure the public’s health and safety.
The O'Neill Institute/Georgetown University Lancet Commission on Law and Global Health articulates the vital role of law – through legal instruments, legal capacities, and institutional reforms, as well as the rule of law – to achieve global health with justice. Our report is structured around four “legal determinants of health,” each of which powerfully affects health outcomes. We coin the term legal determinants of health because it demonstrates law’s power to address the underlying social and economic causes of injury and disease. The four legal determinants, together with key recommendations, are:
1) Law can translate vision into action on sustainable development.
2) Law can strengthen the governance of national and global health institutions.
3) Law can implement fair, evidence-based health interventions.
4) Building legal capacities for health. Strong legal capacities are a key determinant of progress towards global health and sustainable development.
By providing insight on the legal determinants of health, our aim is to empower the global health community to strengthen its legal capacity, and to use law more strategically in the pursuit of health and equity.
Keywords: global health, health professionals, sustainable development, health law, health institutions
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