Concluding Remarks

As has been demonstrated above, even though the right to health has been included in a considerable number of human rights treaties at the international, regional and national levels, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what it entails. Jurisprudence dealing with this right, even though limited, has helped to clarify and define the right to health further, and has demonstrated that it is a right that is very closely related and dependent upon other human rights, such as the right to life, non-discrimination, privacy, access to information and freedom from torture and inhuman and degrading treatment.

This overview has included a selection of cases where the right to health has been successfully or progressively litigated. At the international level, the case of Lantsova v.The Russian Federation demonstrates that if a state is a party to the Optional Protocol of the ICCPR, then petitions in relation to the right to health may be submitted to the Human Rights Committee. Regional decisions by bodies such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights provide examples where rights protected in regional human rights instruments are interpreted broadly to protect ESC rights such as the right to health. Finally, many national courts have started to take a progressive approach towards the domestic enforcement of ESC rights. Indian courts have interpreted civil and political rights, such as the right to life, to include the right to health, while South Africa has entrenched the protection of ESC rights, including the right to health, into its constitution.

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