The WHO Constitution was the first international instrument to enshrine the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being ("the right to health"). The right to health in international human rights law is a claim to a set of social arrangements - norms, institutions, laws, and an enabling environment - that can best secure the enjoyment of this right.
It is an inclusive right extending not only to timely and appropriate health care but also to the underlying determinants of health, for example access to health information, access to water and food, housing, etc.
The right to health is subject to progressive realization and acknowledges resource constraints. However, it also imposes on states various obligations which are of immediate effect, such as the guarantee that the right will be exercised without discrimination of any kind and the obligation to take deliberate, concrete and targeted steps towards its full realization.
WHO programmes and activities
- Human rights, health and poverty reduction strategies [pdf 2.50Mb]
- Human rights and gender equality in health sector strategies [pdf 1.36Mb]
- Right to health cartoons