Human Rights and Health

Readers of the News Blog may wish to read a sure-footed account of the role of human rights in improving health.[1] The article points out that much poor health occurs without any infringement of rights – obesity, for example. It also makes the excellent point that to be effective in guiding policy and improving human health rights gain traction “not by the profile of interests served, but by reference to the obligations it creates.”

The article also caused the CLAHRC WM Director to purr with pleasure when it said that the WHO definition of health as a “state of complex physical, mental and social wellbeing” is far too broad. The CLAHRC WM Director has always thought that this definition is otiose. We need different terms to describe the totality of human experience (wellbeing perhaps), and that part of human experience caused by physical and mental disease (i.e. health).

— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director


  1. Tasioulas J, Vayena E. Getting human rights right in global health policy. Lancet. 2015; 385: e42-4.

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