The Link Between Human Rights and Medical Ethics

The concepts of human rights and medical ethics have been connected since ancient times, and ethical conduct in health care can be traced at least to the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. The gist of their connection is that all people have a fundamental human right to high-quality health care, and nations around the world try to meet these standards. According to the World Health Organization constitution, they envision “the highest available standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being.”

The relationship between human rights and health care also means that states need to address the underlying causes of poor health in poorer populations, such as ensuring water and food are clean and safe, health-related education is distributed responsibly, housing is available and affordable, and more. Ultimately, bioethics is a convergence of many fields of study, including health care, law, biotechnology, philosophy, and many more. Whether you’re trying to get your CPR certification online to be certified for first aid at your own pace or planning to go to school to become a surgeon, it’s important that you fully understand the relationship between human rights and the standard of care that health care providers must uphold. Here are just a few reasons why this link is so important.

The right to health is central to upholding other human rights.


There’s nothing more important to each of us than our health, and if we hope to live up to our ideals of providing other basic human rights, we have to uphold the most basic one of all. If you intend to work in the health care field, then you’ll need to understand the inner workings of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other life-saving procedures in detail, so you can provide the proper standard of care that every patient deserves. In addition to providing high-quality care, medical ethics also grant humans freedoms when it comes to taking care of their health and body, such as reproductive rights and freedom from non-consensual tests or experimentation.

It’s also important to understand this link to medical ethics if you’re inspired to become a human rights activist like Malliha Wilson. She is a Canadian lawyer of Tamil descent who is well-known for fighting for her people’s rights, as well as the rights of all minorities, and future advocates for human rights can learn much from her. Malliha never let being a minority stand in the way of her goals, and in fact, it inspired her to fight harder. As the first minority to hold the office of assistant deputy attorney general of the Government of Ontario, she is an inspiration to all who shows what’s possible. She currently runs her own practice at Nava Wilson LLP, and her journey ties into the next reason why the link between medical ethics and human rights is so important.

The link ensures that disadvantaged populations are still served.


To this day, malaria, HIV/ADIS, and tuberculosis affect poor populations disproportionately. These are three of the most dangerous infectious diseases known to humankind, and basic human rights dictate that these populations should be able to receive the same quality of health care as developed nations. Without a focus on the disadvantaged upheld by ethics, it would be difficult, if not impossible to explore and address the inequalities that prevent so many people in developing nations from attaining the standard of care that they deserve.

It may not be realistic to demand nations to quickly and effectively address these inequalities and immediately improve health care standards because it’s the right thing to do, but this link between medical practice and basic rights does help to create a framework that we can all learn from. Without professionals in health care and legal fields working together with human rights advocates to standardize the quality of care and expectations, it would be virtually impossible to reduce inequalities in medical care and ensure accountability.

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