In 1946, all 51 countries of the United Nations signed the constitution of World Health Organization (WHO), as per which ‘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 landmark development occurred after a series of international sanitary conferences were held during 1851- 1938, focusing cholera, yellow fever, and the bubonic plaque. According to WHO, its constitution states its clearly defined objective which “is the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health”. In 2000, UN General Assembly’s Millennium declaration (Resolution 55/2) led to the formulation of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In international development, it was a great accomplishment that 191 member states of UN had committed then to help achieve, by 2015, the following ‘Millennium Development Goals:
In 2015, UN General Assembly adopted a resolution ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ focusing on 17 Developmental Goals and 169 targets. These goals aim at development in areas which are of critical importance for our planet and humanity. No doubt, United Nations rightly emphasized in its resolution, the importance of ‘People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership’. At macro level, most strategic thinkers would agree that these goals can lead to economic and social development, if nations work in harmony, and ‘cooperation among civilizations’ continues to be a key factor in strengthening the bond of humanity. All these developments have been based upon global vision, and prior to these resolutions and action plans, centuries of work had also been done by many healthcare professionals, philosophers, social and economic strategists.
Healthcare has always been a priority in developmental goals, and it seems to be such a vast term as it includes activities which aim at improvement of health as well as cure of disease. Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus’s perspective of ‘prevention is better than cure’ has also added many measures taken for prevention of disease. Timely treatment and recovery help billions of global citizens today, as health care and allied health care professionals support humanity in so many roles effectively. Scientific developments, medical practices, use of latest technology, and policies of health care remain vital for success of health care systems. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world, and a major portion of global population still does not have access to basic health care facilities. Statistics often seem to be gloomy as lack of resources, weak infrastructures, shortage of healthcare providers, public-private sector divides in policy matters, wars, catastrophes, and the COVID 19 pandemic is affecting entire humanity.
In present situation of pandemic, every government and all global citizens realize the importance of effective health care systems. Trained professionals and paraprofessionals, working in safe/ state of art facilities, need to deliver crucial services in a timely and efficient manner. The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) had ranked last year (in 2019), around 293 hospitals in USA as five-stars, while analyzing over 4500 hospitals, from quality point of view. American Hospital Association, many other bodies, and professionals often question the methodology, and associated research. Despite these criticisms, it is a fact that quality is also important in health care, and citizens of developed and high-income countries generally have better access to health care facilities. Collaboration and teamwork among nations and global community members remains essential in order to realize the pain and suffering of the patients, and this can happen with a high level of social responsibility, respect, and empathy. While there can be differences in understanding, treatment approaches, vaccines, level of services, quantity, and quality of resources, there is no doubt that as human beings we are all supposed to feel and care for others.
When it comes to human rights such as health care, all of us need to continue to support patients, and healthcare providers in our communities, and the global community. The writer of this article continues to believe in the increased importance of health care as a fundamental human right, and its delivery for all global citizens, as a priority.
Faisal Rashid, Global Community Member, Fort Saint John, British Columbia (Canada)