Reviewed by Gorik Ooms

The right to health is a popular concept, frequently used by activists, to claim access to (particular kinds of) health care. In the papers presented below, researchers look at the concept and its usages and its potential values, from different perspectives. Schrecker is a strong proponent from the use of the Right to Health, to pave the (long-term) way for a change in societal perceptions (Advancing health equity in the global marketplace). Ruebichallenges the usefulness of the concept in reality. Schrecker’s argumentation is in line with a much older paper of Stammers, which states that human rights should not only be looked upon from an instrumental point of view, in which laws can be used to claim rights vis-à-vis another party. More important is the meaning of human rights as a social construct which can help social movements to address existing power (in)balances.

From that perspective, I agree with Schrecker. The right to health has been successfully used by Brasil and South Africa challenge the dominance of rich countries in WTO and TRIPS; or in an even broader perspective, by AIDS activists, to make a case against a global neo-liberal market economy without social correction mechanism. In my opinion, the Global Fund could be considered as a very modest attempt of such a social correction.

The Health Case for Economic and Social Rights Against the Global Marketplace

Schrecker, 2011 in Journal of Human Rights

Advancing health equity in the global marketplace: How human rights can help?

Schrecker, Chapman, Labonté and De Vogli, 2010 in Social Science and Medicine

A commentary on the above article:

The promise of human rights for global health: A programmed deception?

David Reubi

A reponse to Reubi

Schrecker et al:

Social Movements and the Social Construction of Human Rights

Neil Stammers in Human Rights Quarterly 1999


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