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Dr Claudio Schuftan – Human Rights and Health Inequality. A Worldwide Phenomenon

THE MOST COMMON DESCRIPTION OF HEALTH INEQUALITY TRENDS AMONG AND WITHIN COUNTRIES IS THAT HEALTH INEQUALITIES ARE INCREASING: A CLEAR INFRINGEMENT OF THE HUMAN RIGHT TO HEALTH.

This text is mostly abstracted from chapter 18 of the International Panel on Social Progress, 2016

-Inequality in health is a morally significant fact in itself.

A purely biomedical understanding of diminished health and preventable mortality misses key dimensions of social and economic issues.

1. The differences in health statistics that impinge on human rights (HR), pertain to how health outcomes are distributed (the distributive pattern), to what is being distributed (the distributive currency), and to the area in which that assessment is made (the distributive locus). The risk that non-disaggregated data carry is fostering prioritarianism. Prioritarianism puts greater weight on the health or wellbeing of those who are worse off rather than focusing specifically on the gap between them and those who are better off.

2. The emphasis must be on equality of true access to services and the health outcomes the existing inequalities brings about. Emphasis must also be on equality in the resources being made available to all.Consequently, assessing equality has to focus on the equality of fundamental social status/class, i.e., the equality in the relations among members of a population that is rarely obtainable beyond inequalities in money, in power, and, to a large extent, in health and health care. [Keep in mind that social groups are marked either by their tendency to attract advantages and disadvantages across many distributive spheres, or by their social salience and relevance].

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