Health as a Human Right

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Health as a Human Right
Demetra Peoples
University of New England

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This quote is taken directly from the Declaration of Independence to the United States of America. The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. No one should be denied health, a basic human right. Having worked as a social worker for Montgomery Public Health and the Montgomery County Department of Human Resources (DHR) for many years, I have witnessed first-hand, how important it is to be healthy.

In the state of Alabama, an individual cannot receive Medicaid if their income is above $700 per month. As a public health social worker, it has been most painful for me to turn sick people away because they do not meet the financial guidelines. As a child welfare social worker, I have seen previously solid, intact families torn apart as a result of health crises that have arisen amongst primary bread winners or their underinsured dependents. In these circumstances, too little was done, too late. Had some type of quality, organized health program been available, the stories of those families would have been significantly different. Equally, I have seen families in health crises preserved when life sustaining treatments were secured through traditional health care.

The United Nations (UN) recognizes that the challenges of leading a productive life without proper health and health care are immense. Article 25 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states the following: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate health and wellbeing of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and the right to security in the event of sickness, disability…motherhood and childhood is entitled to...
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