Human Rights-Based Approaches to Public Health and Health Promotion

David Patterson, Sanjay Patnaik, Nupur Prakash

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


This chapter considers how international and national human rights legal frameworks can be used to promote health. It reviews the origins of states’ legal obligations to protect and promote health, and how a rights- and gender-based approach can support health goals by, for example, advancing access to medicines. The chapter explores examples of successful rights-based approaches, including to HIV and AIDS and to mental health, with consideration for resource-limited countries and contexts. It notes how litigation can be used to draw attention to government obligations, particularly for poor and vulnerable populations. It examines how these approaches can be applied to new health challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change.

The chapter also explores current challenges to human rights–based approaches to global health. The chapter concludes that human rights–based approaches to health are most effective when supported by the widespread ratification of international human rights treaties, the endorsement of other global commitments, the recognition of health-related rights in national constitutions, an impartial judiciary and nonjudicial human rights oversight bodies, and a dynamic civil society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPublic Health Approaches to Health Promotion
EditorsMonika Arora, Shifalika Goenka
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781003438182
ISBN (Print)9781032571751
Publication statusPublished - 24-Oct-2023

Publication series

NamePublic health approach


  • public health
  • human rights

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