Health as a Fundamental Human Right

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Health is a Fundamental Human Right

Health is a human right. By this, it means that everyone has the right to be accorded the highest attainable standards of human health; both physical, mental and spiritual, and this included access to various key components. Some of these include; medical facilities, decent shelter, adequate food, sanitation, and a clean environment. It, therefore, holds that the denial of an individual is a violation of natural law, which is highly associated with natural justice. According to Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales (1996), the natural law demands that "people deserve to be treated when, rightly or wrongly, they are confronted by public authority and made to answer for some act or omission." Hence, everyone is entitled to quality health care is all the possible aspects. The primary focus here is to underscore the fact that health is a fundamental human right, basing arguments on real published sources.

The Cornerstone for the Universal Declaration

The cornerstone for the Universal Declaration in 1998 was in the bid to acknowledge and appreciate human dignity. According to the declaration, humans are created as free creatures, with equal rights and dignity (McCarrick, 1998). Therefore, one of the best ways of upholding such dignity is by conserving and preserving their rights, one of which is availing adequate healthcare (Clark, 2014). Human rights to health guarantee a system of health protection for each. Donley, Grandjean, Jairath & McMullen (2006) argue that health care should be accorded for the common good. They go ahead to define common good as "the total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily."

The Concept of Common Good

The concept of common good has been utilized to analyze the shortcomings and ethical issues that prevent people from acquiring adequate healthcare. Health is highly associated with life. A depreciated state of health threatens one's life. Therefore, denied access to adequate health care is equal to the denied right to life. The dynamics of according people good health is grossly determined by other fundamental human rights such as; education, adequate housing, safe working conditions, and safe drinking water. Equally, everyone should be subjected to equal rights and dignity as far as healthcare is concerned. No one should be forcefully subjected to any form of forced medical experimentation or examination or treatment without consent.

The Impact of Discrimination on Healthcare

Subjecting individuals to discrimination or marginalization exposes one to poor mental and physical conditions. Therefore, discrimination is unacceptable and thus the main barrier to quality health care (Grace, 2013). When people are given the opportunity to take control over their care and be active participants of the same, it is a sign that their human rights are highly respected. Employing such improves the efficiency of healthcare and quality of outcome. That is the main reason why Catholics, supported by their Bishops, advocate for equality in healthcare (Catholic Church United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2001).

Healthcare as a Fundamental Human Right

The contemporary society has set standard human rights that define an individual's right to health. These have been developed in a manner that they are indivisible from other rights. Such, however, are only achievable through a critical understanding and differentiating between rule ethics and virtue ethics (Audi, 2012). Instead of focusing on the motivational reason that drives one to embrace healthcare equality, strict regulations are essential in ensuring that the situation is put in check. Further, viewing health care as a fundamental human right forms organizational and institutional ethics (Collier, 1998).


In conclusion, it is undeniably true that healthcare is a fundamental human right. Failure to accord an individual the recommended standards of healthcare is treated as a crime seen in handling any other problem. Achievement and preservation of health care as a fundamental human right requires efforts and input from all the associated stakeholders. By so doing, it has been determined that the quality and efficiency of healthcare will be enhanced. Patient's compliance will also be enhanced.


Audi, R. (2012). Virtue ethics as a resource in business. Business Ethics Quarterly, 22(2), 273-291.

Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. (1996). The common good and the Catholic church's social teaching. London: Catholic Bishops' Conference.

Catholic Church. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (2001). Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good. USCCB Publishing.

Clark, M. J. (2014). Anatomy of a Social Virtue: Solidarity and Corresponding Vices. Political theology, 15(1), 26-39.

Collier, J. (1998). Theorizing the ethical organization. Business Ethics Quarterly, 8(4), 621-654.

Donley, S. R., Grandjean, C., Jairath, N., & McMullen, P. Nursing and the Common Good November-December 2006.

Grace, G. (2013). Catholic social teaching should permeate the Catholic secondary school curriculum: An agenda for reform. International Studies in Catholic Education, 5(1), 99-109.

McCarrick, T. (1998). Fifty Years After Universal Declaration's Adoption. Origins, 28(27), 484.

October 13, 2023


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