Taking the Right to Health Seriously: Implications for Courts and Health Systems

Human Rights Quarterly, 39(2):341-368 (2017)

Posted: 29 Mar 2021

See all articles by Alicia Ely Yamin

Alicia Ely Yamin

Harvard University - Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics; Harvard University - Harvard Law School; Partners in Health; Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) - Center on Law and Social Transformation

Date Written: May 2017

Abstract

This article seeks to fill a gap between legal discussions regarding the normative content of the right to health and public health and development discussions about health system reform and Universal Health Coverage [UHC]. It sets out conceptual implications of defining health as a right, for health and health systems, and in turn for the involvement of courts in decision-making regarding health. Although appending remedies to broken health systems can exacerbate inequities, the article asserts that by taking systemic approaches the judiciary can promote both horizontal and vertical equity on the path to UHC, as well as foster more effective regulation of private actors. The judiciary does not substitute its own judgment for that of political organs of government, but rather can help to ensure that governmental actions are reasonable and justified in light of normative commitments. Taking the right to health seriously creates a narrative of health, and health care, as an asset of social citizenship, rather than one of largesse or markets, and in so doing, reflects an understanding of human beings as active agents in the social construction of their well-being, and not merely passive patients or consumers of care.

Suggested Citation

Yamin, Alicia Ely, Taking the Right to Health Seriously: Implications for Courts and Health Systems (May 2017). Human Rights Quarterly, 39(2):341-368 (2017), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3795549

Alicia Ely Yamin (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics ( email )

23 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA 02155
United States

Harvard University - Harvard Law School ( email )

1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Partners in Health ( email )

641 Huntington Ave, 1st Floor
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) - Center on Law and Social Transformation ( email )

PO Box 6033 Postterminalen
Bergen, NO-5892
Norway

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