n South African Law Journal - Health & Democracy : A Guide to Human Rights, Health Law and Policy in Post-apartheid South Africa, Adila Hassim, Mark Heywood, Jonathan Berger (Eds.) : book review

Volume 124, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



The cardinal importance of health to our existence and quality of life is self-evident. Health is what gives sustenance to life. It is no exaggeration to say that the rights that we so much cherish as part of democratic citizenship, and which are inscribed in United Nations human rights instruments, regional instruments and in so many domestic constitutions, would be meaningless if we were constantly overburdened with ill health and were unable to count on our governments to assume some of the responsibility for providing health care. Equally, we count on our governments to assume their fair share of responsibility in taking positive steps to secure an environment in which we can live healthily. In this sense, realization of health is an integral part of democratic citizenship. If ever there was any doubt about the pride of place that health occupies in the democratic universe, the relentless ravages of HIV / AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere in the last two decades, and the attendant misery they have visited upon individuals and families, especially, are sufficient testimony. They are poignant reminders that democracy without health is an incomplete promise.

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