Patient Solidarity Day, 6 December (3) Rights of the patient

7 December, 2019

Dear HIFA colleagues,

Massimo Serventi asks if there is a document that says who is responsible to disseminate reliable healthcare information. There is: the World Medical Association's Declaration of Lisbon on the Rights of the Patient, available at:

The Declaration obligates providers to involve patients in their own care. Patients, inter alia, have rights to receive information that healthcare providers and systems might want to withhold, such as reports of adverse events in specific facilities (eg, who got ebola in healthcare, where, and how, in the ongoing ebola outbreak in DRC?). We can see this working in Ratodero, Pakistan, where patients are learning hundreds of children got HIV from healthcare; public awareness builds pressure for safer healthcare in Pakistan.

Here are some selected sections from the Declaration:

Preamble: ...Physicians and other persons or bodies involved in the provision of health care have a joint responsibility to recognize and uphold these rights....

3. Right to self-determination

The patient has the right to self-determination, to make free decisions regarding himself/herself. The physician will inform the patient of the consequences of his/her decisions.

A mentally competent adult patient has the right to give or withhold consent to any diagnostic procedure or therapy. The patient has the right to the information necessary to make his/her decisions. The patient should understand clearly what is the purpose of any test or treatment, what the results would imply, and what would be the implications of withholding consent.

7. Right to information

The patient has the right to receive information about himself/herself recorded in any of his/her medical records, and to be fully informed about his/her health status including the medical facts about his/her condition...

9. Right to Health Education

Every person has the right to health education that will assist him/her in making informed choices about personal health and about the available health services. The education should include information about healthy lifestyles and about methods of prevention and early detection of illnesses. The personal responsibility of everybody for his/her own health should be stressed. Physicians have an obligation to participate actively in educational efforts.

HIFA profile: David Gisselquist is an independent consultant in the United States and has a professional interest in nosocomial risks and transmission of HIV in Africa, agricultural development and agricultural inputs regulation, environment. Email address: david_gisselquist AT