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Throughout history, humans have fought for various rights as time has dictated. Women fought for the right to vote and be active members of society, and continue to fight for equality. Black people fought for their right to freedom and integration in the Human Rights Movement of the 50s in America. The LGBTQ+ community is fighting for their rights of equality and to not be judged for their sexuality.
But what is not clear is what makes a right. Human rights are those that are undeniable and equal across all humans regardless of their individual make-up (sex, race, creed, colour, etc.).
Let’s talk about this topic, its importance and its history.
Is healthcare a human right?
Recently, the new fight seems to be whether or not healthcare is a human right, especially after the Xarelto lawsuit news. Is this something that is owed to us? Or is it something that we developed and should be regulated as such?
Those for often sound similar to the following: “Healthcare in a civilised 21st century nation is a human right, a public service, not a business,” while those against echo, “To propose that health care be considered a human right is not only wrong-headed, it is unhelpful. Mature debate on the rationing and sharing of limited resources can hardly take place when citizens start from the premise that health care is their right, like a fair trial or the right to vote.”
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Healthcare being a right is a benefit to all members of all societies. It is an assurance that our health would no longer be something to worry about, not only giving peace of mind for those times we unexpectedly fall ill, but calming the qualms of long-term illness and prevention of any disease.
The services are already paid for – we each contribute, and we all benefit. And since our own health and well-being are paramount to being functional members of society, the belief of healthcare being a human right does indeed benefit members of society.
For example, your burning house will be saved because the firefighters are no long understaffed after the recent E. coli outbreak as it has been treated and kept from spreading throughout the rest of the department. I think we can all agree we would sleep better at night in this instance.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s a hefty responsibility to ask people to be the sole arbiters of other persons’ healthcare.
The big question is: who does this responsibility fall to? Is it the government’s responsibility? The doctors? The hospital administrators’?
It is a big ask for a hospital system to run itself effectively and be in charge of the health and well-being of all members of its community. Doctors will ultimately have their hands full with treatment but are key in delivering health care; however, should these men and women be at a constant beck and call of all members of a community? That would be the task at hand if things are taken to their logical conclusions.
Finally, we have the government. This could easily be placed, and often is, at the government’s feet. This could get into a whole debate on what a government is and what it should actually govern. Instead of diverting to that debate, and knowing this is a more complex issue than the following statement, government tends to have its hands full.
So where do we go from here? While we’ve focused on the responsibility in this article, there are further questions to consider, such as what constitutes healthcare? Is it the treatment of basic illnesses, the availability of drugs and vaccinations, access to nutritionists and trainers, or covered elective surgery? A sliding scale is certainly hard to nail down for a right. Finally, is the idea of a right needed to maintain a healthy and functioning society?
One person puts the debate in this light: “A child with Down Syndrome may not have the right to my money. But we are a better community, and a better country, if we give it to him anyway.”
In essence, treatment isn’t a right for a medical condition but by dealing with the problem as a community, we are not only bettering the individual but bettering our community at large.
Ultimately, it is necessary to define our terms clearly and concisely so we can all relate to the idea. Whether or not this should be a right is for all of us to decide, but it is safe to say that we all have an obligation as members of the human race to be a part of the conversation and put the best interest of our race in the forefront.
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