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Healthcare as a right

55 10 0
09.05.2019

BY initiating a debate on the recognition of citizens’ right to health, the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) has rendered an invaluable service to the state and the people of Pakistan.

The low priority accorded to health in the country’s basic law has been assailed in public debates for decades. The Constitution refers to health in a most limited sense. Medical relief is the last facility (after food, clothing, housing and education) mentioned in Article 38 under the unenforceable ‘Principles of Policy’, to be provided only to those citizens who cannot earn their livelihood on account of infirmity, sickness or unemployment.

Hence, people’s right to health has been considered much too radical an idea to be broached seriously. However, after the transfer of the right to education from ‘Principles of Policy’ to ‘Fundamental Rights’ and ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, activists believe they can start calling for healthcare as a right.

The low priority accorded to health in the country’s basic law has been assailed in public debates for decades.

The NCHR presented its case by releasing its report Right to Health in Pakistan in Karachi last week. Prepared by the Sindh office of the NCHR after three years of research and consultation in partnership with the Pakistan Association for Mental Health and the Aga Khan University, the report discusses Pakistan’s health programme in the context of international efforts to promote the right to health.

After taking note of the social determinants of........

© Dawn