Daily Archives: June 18th, 2008

Health..a basic human right?

Met a disgruntled patient the other day..”why can’t the government take care of its citizens’ healthcare needs – after all, health is a basic human right!”

That set me thinking on quite a few fronts.

Is health a basic human right?

The WHO constitution states:“the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being…”

The problem of course for governments is whether it is financially viable to provide the best healthcare for each and every of its citizens. Things were not so bad three decades ago where perhaps the most expensive medical procedure would have been an open-heart bypass.

Today, we have organ transplants and, more costly in the long-term, repeated procedures like hemodialysis where you need to attend a center three times a week for the rest of your life, each time incurring a cost of about USD$200. Whatever the source of funding, its going to impose a tremendous strain on the budget. Personally, I do not know of any government which will pprovide a  carte blanche for a patient to be given completely free dialysis treatment for the rest of his life.

So what do governments do? They could provide a partial subsidy or, in the case of a third-party payor (like insurance companies) only provide limited coverage.

As countries grapple with the ever-increasing healthcare costs, it wouldn’t be a surprise for more and more to adopt the maxim :

Basic healthcare is a basic human right!

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