Right to health

Everyone has a right to health. This means that the State must ensure good quality medical assistance and protect patients’ rights.

Everyone has a right to health, but this right cannot be understood as the right to be healthy. The State cannot guarantee that all its citizens will be perfectly healthy. Therefore, it is more accurate to describe the right to health as being the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. This means that the State must ensure good quality medical assistance and protect patients’ rights.

The preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization reads:

“The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition“.

Article 28 of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia provides that everyone has the right to the protection of health.

In general, the right to health includes the following sub-rights:

  • the right to control one’s health and body including bodily autonomy
  • the right to access and receive information about one‘s health
  • the right to choose a doctor, health care institution, diagnostic and treatment methods
  • the right to access health care services
  • the right to essential medicine
  • the right to choose, accept and refuse medical treatment
  • the right to complain about potential violatons of one‘s right to health
  • the right to compensation if one‘s right to health has been violated

About this section

This section of the Guide will explain more about what the right to health is, how it can be applied to and exercised by specific groups, as well as what the State’s obligations are in this regard.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education