Why do people need health care

Doctors of the World: Human Right Health

Human right health

Health is a human right

Everyone has the right to the highest attainable level of physical and mental health. This is laid down in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which the United Nations General Assembly passed in 1966. 164 states have ratified it.

This right includes, among other things, access to timely, affordable, high quality healthcare and is closely related to other human rights. Because people are more likely to get sick if, for example, the right to an adequate standard of living, to food, water or to education is not fulfilled. Conversely, health is the prerequisite for a person to exercise other human rights and participate in social, economic and political life.

However, many people around the world cannot exercise their right to health:

  • More than 8,000 children under the age of five die every day from diseases that could be avoided or treated with simple and inexpensive treatments.
  • Every year around 100 million people fall below the poverty line because they have to pay for health services out of their own pocket. Poor, marginalized or discriminated population groups are particularly affected.

In Germany, too, access to health care is not guaranteed for parts of the population. People without papers / without legal residence status, refugees, EU citizens and Germans without health insurance are excluded from the regulatory system and often have no access to timely and affordable health care.

Mental health is an important part of our work.

Doctors of the World is committed to ensuring that all people can realize their right to access to health. The human rights approach means for our work:

  • Our patients are rights holders, not primarily recipients of aid. We support them in realizing their rights.

  • We support without discrimination, that is, regardless of ethnic origin and religious or political convictions. We help regardless of skin color, gender, language, religion, political attitude, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • We focus on groups of people who are disadvantaged or excluded.

  • We testify to human rights violations that we encounter in our work.

  • We are also politically committed to equitable access to health care for all people.

Doctors of the World works closely with local partners to make the right to health a reality. Photo: Quentin Top

Rights include obligations. The states that ratified the Social Pact in 1966 have to fulfill their duties primarily: to respect the right to health, to protect it from interference by third parties and to guarantee it. This means that the state must not violate the right to health itself:

  • for example by excluding certain groups from health services,

  • that he must guarantee legal protection in the event of violations by other parties, for example by controlling private providers,

  • that he must actively ensure that the rights for individuals are guaranteed - for example by providing appropriate funds.

Incidentally, financial difficulties do not relieve states from their duty to take measures to realize the right to health.

In addition to the social pact, the Federal Republic of Germany has signed a large number of international agreements that recognize the right to health and access to the health system for all people. However, parts of the population of Germany are excluded from health care because they have no legal entitlement to standard care, cannot afford adequate care or are discriminated against. Doctors of the World calls on political decision-makers at various levels - EU, federal, state and local governments - to respect, protect and guarantee the right to health.

  • As almost3,000Roma livesDenisin a sluminSeine-Saint-Denis. Her family was evacuated several times before they moved to a makeshift camp. Without a stable income, Denisa and her family have no access to social housing, running water or basic services. Denisa is 15 and pregnant, she does not go to the gynecologist because she does not have the means. She does not know where she will give birth - or under what conditions.

  • At the age of eight and a half, Cedric spent half of his life in an orphanage in Bulgaria: he was brought there to protect him from his parents who abused him. But living in the facility is no substitute for a real family. Nightmares, difficulties in learning, problems at school: Cédric's traumatic past has left its mark. All of the challenges his adoptive family will face.

  • “Two years ago a teenager hit me in the face. I had a hernia in the middle of my face and had to undergo emergency surgery. I actually came here to pick strawberries, but I can no longer do this work. Although I had health insurance, I could no longer pay the contributions. A friend wanted to buy a kidney from me. I wanted to use the money to pay my health insurance debts. But I didn't sell my kidney after all. The people on the project sent me to a debt counseling service.

    Since I've been in Germany I've always been treated badly. The first time anyone treated me like a human was here with you guys. In 2016 my husband had a stroke. He is paralyzed on one side and needs a wheelchair. We got it donated. Now he can also leave the apartment. "