Today, 1.3 billion people lack access to basic health care services. And many more are at risk of receiving poor quality care. A major contributing factor is lack of availability and use of relevant, reliable healthcare information.
The World Health Organization defines Universal Health Coverage as “all people have access to needed promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that people do not suffer financial hardship when paying for these services”.
Meeting the information needs of citizens, health professionals and policymakers is a prerequisite for Universal Health Coverage. Access to health information is a key determinant of the Right to Health and the right to receive promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services according to need.
Access to Health Information Under International Human Rights Law
From 2008-2012, HIFA collaborated with the New York Law School to evaluate access to healthcare information under international human rights law. This included a thematic discussion on the HIFA forum, which is summarised here. The findings were published in December 2012 as a White Paper: Access to Health Information Under International Human Rights Law. The paper considers whether and, if so, to what extent states are obligated under international treaty law to provide individuals, lay healthcare providers, professional healthcare providers, and policymakers with appropriate health information. It concludes that health information is an essential component of many identified and established human rights. States party to treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights have a legal obligation under International Human Rights Law to progressively meet the healthcare information needs of all citizens.