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Right to health and health care

Legal India

The Right to Health Care- Why, What & How- A Policy Brief for Public Discussion . Though written in the context of Tamil Nadu, this book would be of equal relevance to all activists and academics working for the achievement of Right to Health. The reason we chose to write in such a context-specific manner is to draw attention to how the context of both health systems and existing legal frameworks would greatly influence what goes into specific laws. The book also flags what are the systemic changes required for being to be able to effectively deliver healthcare as an entitlement and how this closely relates to the attainment of Health for All. Taken together, this book is more like a manifesto for the attainment of the right to health. This publication also informs the conceptual background of this web-portal.

Sources of Legal Recognition of Health Rights” : the provide brief details of the International and National legal instruments that provide oblige governments to provide a legal framework for the Right to Health Including the Right to Healthcare. (This is the same note as given in the annexure 1of the Resource Collectives “Right to healthcare” publication linked earlier.

There are three important background documents that we post. These are reference documents for those actively working on developing legal frameworks.

First is the first draft bill for a National Health Act, 2009 that was drafted under the leadership of the NHSRC in year 2008-09 and went through extensive discussions and inputs from both civil society and some legal experts. It was a start, but it did not go far- both because of changed political situation ( viz the transition from UPA-1 to UPA 2) and internal criticisms and its own weaknesses.

Then we enclose the Right to Health Act, Assam, 2012,  as adopted by the Government of Assam. It draws heavily on the draft national bill, but was a non-starter for the rules were never framed. Then history repeats itself and we present the Right to Health Act, Rajasthan, 2023 as adopted by the Government of Rajasthan. Here too the rules were not framed, but unlike in Assam it attracted far more of a supportive public response and a hostile professional response. To discuss the problems of this Act, we enclose one commentary published in Scroll and give links to two others.

Two other documents we provide links to are  Tamil Nadu Public Health Act, 1939 and  Tamil Nadu’s Clinical Establishments Act.2012.

Coming from macro-issues to specific aspects we enclose an interesting comment on an intervention by India’s Supreme Court in the pandemic response titled Human Rights and State Policy in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Adjudication as Accountability published in India in Transition: Centre for Advanced Studies in India: U. Penn, Politics: Special COVID-19 Series; June 7, 2021

This is also the topic of discussion in the interview published in the Times of India-May 26th, 2021,“  on Everyone has an entitlement to vaccination against covid 19” This was an Interview of Sundararaman by Rema Nagarajan and it describes the changes in Indian policy towards universal vaccination and calls for addressing the equity challenges.

Legal International

We begin this collection with a link to the  National Health Security Act , 2002 of Thailand.

We intend to develop a commentary on this but as an interim measure we have posted an explanatory power-point presentation that was used in the International Peoples Health University- short course held in Bangkok in 2022.

Then we also attach Thailand’s Right to Health Act, 2007 and provide links to Thailands Public Health Act (1992) and Primary Healthcare Act, 2018. There is also a UN commentary on Thailand’s Legal Framework.

We then provide links to

  1. National Health Services Act, 1948 of United Kingdom
  2. The Right to Health Act of South Africa
  3. The right to health act of Brazil
  4. Right to Health in the South East Asian Region (a WHO publication).
  5. Right to Health in Constitutions in SE Asia ( a WHO publication)

Then we include the full General Comment 14 on Right to Health of the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, and provide links to the other key international documents on the Right to Health. We add a note with a quick summary of important quotations from these international documents.

Finally there is an ongoing discussion in many international circles about the relationship of UHC to RTH. We provide links to two articles in Lancet and we also share a power-point presentation on RTH and PHC that we are using to discuss this theme.