Face the Facts – Right to Health

factsIt’s time that we face the facts about our right to health. There are two sides to look at:  the facts about what this fundamental human right includes, and facts about why this right is denied to the vast majority of people around the world.  This post begins on the first side, with an introduction to a comprehensive fact sheet from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the World Health Organization.  Once we all know our right to health, we can better understand why it is often denied, and see clearer how we can address this failure of human rights and decency.

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As human beings, our health and the health of those we care about is a matter of daily concern. Regardless of our age, gender, socio-economic or ethnic background, we consider our health to be our most basic and essential asset. Ill health, on the other hand, can keep us from going to school or to work, from attending to our family responsibilities or from participating fully in the activities of our community. By the same token, we are willing to make many sacrifices if only that would guarantee us and our families a longer and healthier life. In short, when we talk about well-being, health is often what we have in mind.

The right to health is a fundamental part of our human rights and of our understanding of a life in dignity. The right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, to give it its full name, is not new. Internationally, it was first articulated in the 1946 Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO), whose preamble defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. The preamble further states that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”

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The FCGH Alliance Activates

FCGHThe FCGH Alliance Activates

A Rights-Based Framework for the SDGs and Beyond: A Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH)

A growing movement is galvanizing around a proposed Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH) – a global treaty based in human rights and aimed at national and global health equality. Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the following call to action in his report in advance of the June 2016 High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS: “I further encourage the international community to consider and recognize the value of a comprehensive framework convention on global health.” It is now time for the international community, from individual states to the Director-General of the World Health Organization – the organization mandated to lead the world on global health, and with the right to health as a core constitutional principle – to answer this call.

The FCGH Alliance
In 2017, organizations and individuals supporting the FCGH decided to establish the Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH) Alliance, a Geneva-based NGO formed under the Swiss civil code, to advocate for and ensure inclusive participation in the process of developing the FCGH. With growing numbers of supporters, from people who have experienced debilitating health conditions to national and global civil society organizations and global health luminaries, with deepening engagement with WHO, and with growing potential for state support, it was time to move from a loose coalition to a legally recognized NGO.

The goal of the FCGH Alliance is to secure the FCGH. A key principle of the FCGH Alliance will be broad engagement. We will seek individuals and organizations around the world to join in its membership and partner in its efforts, with a special emphasis on ensure the participation of civil society and community-based organizations, and populations who suffer most from health inequities. The FCGH must, above all, be a treaty that speaks to their needs, meets their expectations, and secures their right to health.

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