“The right to the highest attainable standard of health” requires a set of social criteria that is conducive to the health of all people, including the availability of health services, safe working conditions, adequate housing and nutritious foods. Achieving the right to health is closely related to that of other human rights, including the right to food, housing, work, education, non-discrimination, access to information, and participation.
The right to health includes both freedoms and entitlements.
- Freedoms include the right to control one’s health and body (e.g. sexual and reproductive rights) and to be free from interference (e.g. free from torture and from non-consensual medical treatment and experimentation).
- Entitlements include the right to a system of health protection that gives everyone an equal opportunity to enjoy the highest attainable level of health.
Health policies and programmes have the ability to either promote or violate human rights, including the right to health, depending on the way they are designed or implemented. Taking steps to respect and protect human rights upholds the health sector’s responsibility to address everyone’s health.