Health and Social Justice

The Lancet, Vol. 364, pp. 1075-1080, 2004

6 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2006  

Jennifer Prah Ruger

University of Pennsylvania


Over several decades, scientific progress has expanded our ability to improve human health, and many regions of the world have achieved significant health gains. Yet extreme deprivation in health is still widespread. Resolving this predicament of major health improvement in the midst of deprivation is one of the greatest global challenges of the new millennium. In the midst of such rapid global change and persistent health disparities, we need to revisit and underscore the moral and philosophical foundations for health improvement activities - to give them more forceful grounding and solidity. In this Article, I briefly survey some traditional philosophies of justice and health care. I then offer an alternative view of justice and health that builds on and integrates Amartya Sen's capability approach and Aristotle's political theory, and discuss the implications of this approach for public policy and for global health institutions to improve health acoss the globe.

Keywords: Health, Sen, Social Justice

JEL Classification: I10

Suggested Citation

Prah Ruger, Jennifer, Health and Social Justice. The Lancet, Vol. 364, pp. 1075-1080, 2004. Available at SSRN:

Jennifer Prah Ruger (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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