Health as a human right: the wrong prescription
The idea that governments should be legally obliged to provide healthcare for its citizens is now an apparently uncontroversial idea. The “right to health” forms the basis of policy for the UN, many international NGOs and national development agencies, and exists in the constitutions of many countries.
The political and legal ascendance of the right to health is unwarranted and counterproductive, according to International Human Rights academic Jacob Mchangama. Turning healthcare into an individual enforceable right creates all kinds of legal complexities, undermines the rule of law and stifles political pluralism. Neither is there any evidence that “the right to health” has actually improved healthcare anywhere in the world – in some cases it has undermined it.
In reality, the rights which are really fundamental to improved healthcare are those which underpin prosperity and economic development – such as the right to own and exchange property. Such rights are denied to millions, yet are vital for creating the prosperity needed to pay for good healthcare.