Do we need a world health insurance to realize the right to health?

December 25, 2006

There has been growing recognition in the international community that health should be considered a human right, but much less attention has been paid to the ensuing legal obligation to provide international assistance, says a team of authors from Médecins Sans Frontières, led by Gorik Oooms.

There are two major reasons, say the authors, why many countries get out of their obligation to provide such health assistance.

The first reason is the idea of shared responsibility. "Poor states can blame rich states for not honouring their obligation to provide assistance, thus leaving poor states with insufficient means to meet their core obligations," say Ooms and colleagues. "Rich states can blame poor states--and each other--for not doing enough."

The second reason is the notion of "progressive realization," i.e. the recognition that economic, social, and cultural rights cannot be fully realized in a short period of time. "This allows states to claim that they are doing or have done everything they can," say the authors.

Ooms and colleagues say that a "world health insurance" could solve both of these problems by defining rights a nd duties for both rich and poor states.

As a model for how such an insurance scheme might operate, they cite the example of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The creation of the Global Fund, they say, "demonstrates the merits of ambitious thinking: the provision of antiretroviral therapy to people living with AIDS, previously dismissed as unsustainable, became widely accepted as soon as the Global Fund provided a long-term funding perspective. Other health interventions deserve a similar approach."

Ooms and colleagues' framework for a world health insurance involves rich states paying a fair contribution and poor states having the right to assistance according to the health-care needs that they are unable to finance themselves. The WHO has estimated that a state needs to spend at least $35 per person per year to finance adequate levels of health care. Under Ooms and colleagues' sc heme, rich countries would have an obligation to assist those countries that are unable to reach this spending on their own.

"Our article is an exercise to show that it is possible to implement the obligation to provide assistance, and that this would change the debates about sustainability," commented Ooms.
-end-
Citation: Ooms G, Derderian K, Melody D (2006) Do we need a world health insurance to realise the right to health? PLoS Med 3(12): e530.

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT:
http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0030530

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-03-12-ooms.pdf

CONTACT:

Gorik Ooms
Médecins Sans Frontières
General Direction
Rue Dupré 94
Brussels, 1090
+32 2 474 74 74
gorik.ooms@brussels.msf.org

EMBARGO: MONDAY, 25 December, 5 P.M. PST

PLEASE MENTION THE OPEN-ACCESS JOURNAL PLoS MEDICINE (www.plosmedicine.org) AS THE SOURCE FOR THESE ARTICLES AND PROVIDE A LINK TO THE FREELY-AVAILABLE TEXT. THANK YOU.

All works published in PLoS Medicine are open access. Everything is immediately available without cost to anyone, anywhere to read, download, redistribute, include in databases, and otherwise use subject only to the condition that the original authorship is properly attributed. Copyright is retained by the authors. The Public Library of Science uses the Creative Commons Attribution License.

About PLoS Medicine

PLoS Medicine is an open access, freely available international medical journal. It publishes original research that enhances our understanding of human health and disease, together with commentary and analysis of important global health issues. For more information, visit http://www.plosmedicine.org

About the Public Library of Science

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. For more information, visit http://www.plos.org

PLOS

Related Health Articles from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.