Interview mit Pauliina Nykänen-Rettaroli

Weltgesundheitstag 2024: Recht auf Gesundheit

Anlässlich der Gründung der Weltgesundheitsorganisation (WHO) im Jahr 1948 findet jedes Jahr am 7. April der Weltgesundheitstag statt. Das Motto für 2024 lautet "My health, my right". Pauliina Nykänen-Rettaroli, Senior Technical Lead and Unit Head on Human Rights, WHO, erläutert im BVPG-Interview die diesjährige Schwerpunktsetzung „Right to health“ (Recht auf Gesundheit).

Porträt Pauliina Nykänen-Rettaroli, Senior Technical Lead and Unit Head on Human Rights, WHO
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Every year on World Health Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) focuses on a global health issue. WHO Constitution, which came into force on 7 April 1948, recognizes health as a fundamental right of every human being. With World Health Day 2024, the right to health will once again become the focus of the global community under the motto "My health, my right".

As the WHO Constitution recognises, health is a fundamental right of every human being. It is indispensable for the exercise of other human rights. All WHO Member States have ratified at least one international treaty that recognises the right to the highest attainable standard of health. Yet, despite these commitments, at least 4.5 billion people more than half of the world’s population — were not fully covered by essential health services in 2021.

Conflicts, the climate crisis and deepening inequalities are the reality for many, directly impacting on human and planetary health and well-being. Conflicts disrupt access to basic health care and cause untold trauma, the effects of which linger through generations. The climate crisis exacerbates health crises and promotes conditions that are conducive to the spread of pathogens, known and unknown. Discrimination and stigma exacerbate exclusion from healthcare, particularly for marginalised groups.

The theme "My health, my right" was chosen this year to reignite the global commitment to the right to health and to bridge the gap between commitments and reality. It is a call to action to ensure access to healthcare without any discrimination or financial hardship. It is also a reminder that to realise the right to health, it is important to address underlying determinants of health and to empower individuals to take an active role in their own health and in the health decision-making in their communities.


At least 140 countries around the world have recognized the right to health as a human right in their constitutions, but it is often not implemented in practice. What is the status of the right to health in the WHO European Region and its 53 Member States?

All countries in Europe recognize health either as a constitutional right or have legislated on access to healthcare. This enabling legislation is really important. But unfortunately having the right to health included in your constitution or legislation does not necessarily mean that this right is fully realized for everyone.

Many countries in Europe have gaps in universal health coverage. Virtually in every country in the region, there are people for whom out-of-pocket health expenditures lead to financial hardship. The incidence of catastrophic health spending has in fact increased over time.

Country averages can also conceal major inequities. Poorer households are more likely to face financial hardship, and people with low income are also three times more likely than higher earners to delay or not seek care. People of African descent are more likely to report unmet medical needs (9 percent versus 5 percent of general population). Some people, such as undocumented migrants, may also be excluded from coverage, or they may encounter legal, administrative, financial or other barriers in accessing health services. Some groups are more likely to face discrimination in healthcare settings. For example, in 2021, 16 percent of Roma women and 13 percent of Roma men who had used healthcare services in the previous 12 months reported having experienced discrimination.

There are also inequalities within Europe with regards to underlying determinants of health. For example, households below the relative poverty threshold are at least three times more likely to live in overcrowded conditions in many countries. In some countries, the proportion of the population without access to adequate drinking-water sources is over 5 times higher in the lowest wealth quintile than in the highest, and there are inequalities in exposure to air pollution, noise and road safety hazards.

Addressing these inequities should be a priority for the countries in the region to achieve health for all.


What calls to action are being formulated by WHO to Member States for World Health Day 2024?

We are calling on people to know their rights in the context of health. Everyone has a right to safe and quality care without any discrimination. People also have a right to privacy and confidentiality of their health information, and to informed consent, bodily autonomy and integrity, and a right to make decisions about their own health. Everyone should also have access to the health services they need without facing financial hardship.

We are also calling on governments to invest in health as if their bottom line depended on it: an additional USD 200-328 billion a year is needed globally to scale up primary health care in low- and middle-income countries.

We are calling on countries to make every law and policy count for the right to health: tax tobacco, sugar and alcohol; eliminate transfats; stop fossil fuel subsidies; ensure decent work and worker rights for health and care workers; prohibit all forms of discrimination; and ensure access to social protection.

Realizing the right to health also means being people-centred. We are calling for reorienting health systems around primary health care and involving individuals and communities in health decision-making, for example through town-hall meetings and citizen assemblies, consultations and health councils.

Another important call is to safeguard the right to health in times of war and conflict: health infrastructure and health workers must be protected at all times and people need to have uninterrupted access to health services in line with international humanitarian and human rights law.


What activities are planned this year?

We are planning a social media campaign on the theme "My health, my right" to raise awareness of everyone about their rights and to advocate for action to realize the right to health. We are publishing materials on our website and social media channels and will engage influencers to spread the message.

An exciting event will take place on 8 April, the day after the World Health Day: A high-level dialogue between WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Volker Türk on Realizing the right to health in a world in turmoil. We encourage everyone to join the event either in person in Geneva or online.

We also encourage people to amplify our message about the right to health on their own social media channels.

 

Die Fragen stellte Ulrike Meyer-Funke, Bundesvereinigung Prävention und Gesundheitsförderung e.V. (BVPG)



Weitere Informationen zum Weltgesundheitstag 2024

Informationen zum Weltgesundheitstag 2024 finden Sie auf der englischsprachigen Internetseite der WHO unter www.who.int.

Das Statistische Bundesamt hat auf seinem Portal Gesundheitsberichterstattung des Bundes ausgewählte Informationen zum diesjährigen Schwerpunktthema zusammengestellt.

 

Bei Rückfragen wenden Sie sich bitte an weltgesundheitstag@bvpraevention.de.


 

Pauliina Nykänen-Rettaroli | Senior Technical Lead and Unit Head on Human Rights at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. She leads WHO’s work on health-related human rights which includes supporting countries to integrate human rights into health systems, programmes and policies, to increase social participation in health decision-making and to use international human rights mechanisms to advance health related rights.


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