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A Culture Of Health And Human Rights

Author: Wendy K. Mariner, George J. Annas
$15.00

A culture of health can be seen as a social norm that values health as the nation’s priority or as an appeal to improve the social determinants of health. Better population health will require changing social and economic policies. Effective changes are unlikely unless health advocates can leverage a framework broader than health to mobilize political action in collaboration with non–health sector advocates. We suggest that human rights—the dominant international source of norms for government responsibilities—provides this broader framework. Human rights, as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and enforceable treaties, require governments to assure their populations nondiscriminatory access to food, water, education, work, social security, and a standard of living adequate for health and well-being. The policies needed to realize human rights also improve population health, well-being, and equity. Aspirations for human rights are strong enough to endure beyond inevitable setbacks to specific causes.

A culture of health can be seen as a social norm that values health as the nation’s priority or as an appeal to improve the social determinants of health. Better population health will require changing social and economic policies. Effective changes are unlikely unless health advocates can leverage a framework broader than health to mobilize political action in collaboration with non–health sector advocates. We suggest that human rights—the dominant international source of norms for government responsibilities—provides this broader framework. Human rights, as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and enforceable treaties, require governments to assure their populations nondiscriminatory access to food, water, education, work, social security, and a standard of living adequate for health and well-being. The policies needed to realize human rights also improve population health, well-being, and equity. Aspirations for human rights are strong enough to endure beyond inevitable setbacks to specific causes.

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