n CME : Your SA Journal of CPD - Human rights obligations in health care : main article

Volume 24, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-2170



Human rights are a core element of professional obligations for health care workers. <BR>Violations of human rights can occur across a spectrum from the egregious (e.g. medical complicity in torture) to the everyday (e.g. treatment of patients with disrespect or providing negligent care). <BR>National and international bodies are increasingly recognising the importance of incorporating human rights into ethical and professional standards. <BR>Human rights are universal benchmarks that reflect global consensus to hold governments and private sector parties accountable for the fulfilment of fundamental needs of individuals. <BR>Health is one of a range of socio-economic rights, recognised as such by the World Health Organization. <BR>Governments have obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil rights. <BR>Health care providers carry obligations to ensure that they are not agents responsible for the violations of human rights, and can act positively to promote and fulfil human rights. <BR>The South African Constitution contains a range of provisions regarding health, including rights to access health care services, rights related to the underlying conditions needed for health, rights pertaining to vulnerable groups, and foundational rights that inform how health care should be delivered. <BR>The main right to health in South Africa affords people the right of access to health care on the basis that the government will progressively realise this right. <BR>Health care providers cannot act to obstruct patients' rights to access health care, nor refuse to provide treatment for emergencies. <BR>Rationing of health care can be compatible with human rights provided it is conducted in a transparent manner and the criteria used are reasonable and non-discriminatory. <BR>Human rights may be limited, but only if this is done to protect others' rights, or in the public interest, subject to fair procedures and the absence of alternative strategies.

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