Right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

What does this mean?

The right to health is not a right to be healthy – genetic traits and our varied lifestyles make this impossible. It is a right to a range of goods, services and information which are needed for health. It includes both a right to healthy conditions and a right to adequate health care. It covers a wide range including mental health, sexual and reproductive health, environmental health, workplace health and safety, prevention, treatment and control of diseases as well as broader public health strategies.

The right to healthy conditions includes:

  • Safe drinking water and adequate sanitation

  • Safe food

  • Adequate nutrition and housing

  • Healthy working and environmental conditions

  • Health-related education and information

  • Gender equality.

The right to health care includes:

Availability -sufficient health care information, services, goods and facilities, including trained health and care workers.

Accessibility -health care information, services, goods and facilities should be physically and economically accessible without discrimination.

Acceptability -health care should be acceptable in terms of medical ethics as well as culturally acceptable to persons belonging to minorities.

Quality -health facilities, goods and services must also be scientifically and medically appropriate and of good quality. This requires, among other things, skilled medical personnel, scientifically approved drugs and hospital equipment, safe water and adequate sanitation.

When could this be relevant?

  • Access to essential medicines

  • Access to information about health

  • Non-discrimination against older people in accessing health services.