World Human Rights Day, the human right to health requires urgent unified action

On World Human Rights Day, The Union restates the need for greater political action in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for health, including ending the deadly epidemic of tuberculosis (TB) by 2030 and to ensure that all people can fulfil their human right to health.

In recognition of this the 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health will focus on human rights when it comes to The Hague, The Netherlands, 24-27 October, 2018.

At the closing ceremony of the previous Union World Conference in Guadalajara, The Union’s Executive Director José Luis Castro, said: “It is truly fitting that, in 2018, our world conference will be hosted by The Hague, a city with a historic tradition of campaigning for social justice. That 1.8 million people die each year from TB – a curable disease - is an affront to basic human rights. There is no more appropriate place than The Hague to communicate this point to the world, and demand urgent action.”

The conference theme will be Declaring Our Rights: Social and Political Solutions highlighting the essential need for a human rights approach and greater political commitment to eradicate TB and reduce the global threats of tobacco use, air pollution and other lung diseases.  

In 1946 health was enshrined as a fundamental human right in the constitution of the World Health Organization (PDF 327 KB), which states that ‘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’. This was reaffirmed in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This World Human Rights Day calls upon us all to prepare to celebrate 70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights next year, in 2018.

It is apt that this is the same year in which the United Nations will hold its first ever High-Level Meeting on TB (UNHLM). This meeting provides a much needed global opportunity to turn the tide against TB, a disease which continues to kill 4,700 people every day.

As we go forward toward 2018 and the UNHLM, we must recognise that the failure to end TB has seen the disease resurgent in ever deadlier multidrug-resistant forms. World Human Rights Day reminds us that ‘whenever and wherever humanity's values are abandoned, we all are at greater risk’.