Health care is not a human rightBMJ 1999; 319 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7205.321 (Published 31 July 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:321
- Philip Barlow, Consultant neurosurgeon
- Southern General Hospital, Glasgow G51 4TF
EDITOR—The Tavistock Group has invited comments on its document on shared ethical principles.1 I would challenge its first major principle—that health care is a human right.
A human right is a moral right of paramount importance applicable to every human being. There are several reasons why health care should not be considered a human right.
Firstly, health care is difficult to define. It clearly encompasses preventive care (for example, immunisation), public health measures, health promotion, and medical and surgical treatment of established illness. …