The right to health is highly problematic when construed as an enforceable right, with the state legally bound to enforce it in a particular and ideologically skewed manner. It would be better interpreted as a human aspiration whose implementation should be left to the democratic process and be decided upon the basis of the political convictions of the electorate.

Elected politicians would then be free to implement (or reject) whichever kind of health system is deemed most appropriate by the electorate, without being at risk of breaching human rights – be it predominantly private or state managed. Nevertheless, competitive markets have already shown themselves to be fundamental to fulfilling other human aspirations.

If the development community is serious about human rights and improving health, they would switch their focus away from the “right” to health and toward the fundamental rights to personal and economic freedom currently denied to hundreds of millions of people in poorer parts of the world: the right to free speech and the right to own and exchange property.