Advancing the Right to Health: The vital role of law – University of Copenhagen

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20 December 2017

Advancing the Right to Health: The vital role of law

Katharina Ó Cathaoir (Welma) co-authors article in American Journal of Public Health with global health lawyers.

Soda taxes to promote healthy behavior; labelling to discourage alcohol abuse; litigation to demand access to health services. Drawing on the World Health Organization’s report, Advancing the Right to Health: the vital role of law, this article highlights the ways in which law can support realizing the right to health.

Law enshrines public health infrastructure, and can create conditions to promote the public’s health and safety, including establishing health centered tax policy, altering the informational environment to ensure empowered consumers, developing spaces that enable communities to live a healthy life, and safeguarding rights through direct legislation.

Where necessary, legal systems can indirectly ensure the right to health through targeted litigation and complaints. We argue for a renewed focus on law to support the mission of public health, strengthen accountability, and leverage results.