The struggle for having a better lifestyle for humans has seen a long path right from the days when men lived in caves and ‘survival of the fittest’ was the theory to present day, when ‘survival of the weakest’ is the goal. The quest of having better health is never-ending and due to this quest, we tend to move forward in medication. According to the World HEALTH organization, Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease. Health is a vital indicator of human development and human development is the basic ingredient of economic and social development. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) by the United Nations grants the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of humans.
Right to Health in India
In India, the right to health has been recognized since early times, Independent India approached the public as the right holder and the state as the duty-bound primary provider of health for all. Although the right to health has not been recognized as a fundamental right, the Right to Life and personal liberty mentioned in Article 21 of the India Constitution guarantees a life with human dignity & not mere survival or animal existence. It has a much wider meaning which includes the right to livelihood, better standard of life, hygienic conditions in workplace & leisure.
The right to health is inherent to a life with dignity. The directive principles of state policy also have some provisions of them has directly or indirectly related to public health. It directs the state to take measures to improve the condition of health care of the people. Apart from the state, the Panchayat and Municipalities are also responsible for the upkeep of the health according to the eleventh schedule of the constitution.
The Indian judiciary played a very active role by entertaining public interest litigation. Paschim Bangal Khet Mazdoor Samity & Others v. State of West Bengal & Others held that in a welfare state, the primary duty of the government is to secure the welfare of the people, and moreover it is the obligation of the government to provide adequate medical facilities for its people. It was also stated in the same case that the government hospitals run by the state are duty-bound to extend medical assistance for preserving human life.
The right to health acts as a weapon for the poor who cannot afford proper treatment for their illness due to lack of money. Generally, they are denied care and medical facilities because the price in private service centers is sky-high. Here, the right to health comes as a shield and because of this, each and every individual can avail of the health facilities in the state-run government hospitals and care centers. The perfect example of this is the situation in the present scenario. The number of COVID patients is increasing day by day at an alarming rate but the government is proving free test and treatment. This is being done because each individual has a Right to Health.