THE CURRENT coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic cannot further emphasize how global health is a shared concern. As we commemorate World Health Day today, 7 April 2020, the Commission on Human Rights emphasizes the obligation of the government to ensure that its citizens achieve the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
Our right to health, in this regard, also covers being able to access medical services, proper sanitation, adequate food and nutrition, decent housing, and a safe and healthy environment.
We note that there are already strides in providing better healthcare services to Filipinos, such as through the passage of the Universal Health Care Act. But we equally recognise the continuing challenges of better health service delivery, especially in far-flung, rural areas.
To date, there are still pending bills in Congress, which pertain to better protection of barangay health workers and enhancing healthcare systems in cultural and indigenous communities among others, that can better advance everyone’s right to health.
The current Covid-19 pandemic also highlights the need to invest in our healthcare workers, who we can regard as the heart of healthcare systems. The sacrifices of our doctors and other healthcare professionals, especially those who have fallen fighting the virus, will be rendered meaningless if we cannot adequately support them in this critical time—this includes providing better, adequate facilities and personal protective equipment, and even prioritizing them for Covid-19 screenings.
At the same time, it is also high-time for us to recognise that we, the people, are the first line of defence against the spread of the virus. Staying home and washing our hands are the easiest ways to contribute to the fight against Covid-19. But demanding transparency, accountability, and better healthcare services are also means to ensure that conditions improve, not only for the privileged few, but also for everyone, most especially the vulnerable and marginalised who often resort to out-of-pocket spending in times of sickness.
(Statement of CHR in commemoration of the World Health Day, 7 April 2020)