Article 24 of the UN CRC states that every child has the right to access health care services and facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. This means that all countries have the obligation to ensure that every child can go to the doctor, hospital or any other health services he or she needs.    

The right to health must be uphold regardless of status, cultural background, illness or disability, and it must ensure the highest attainable standard of health care. This means that it must be provided by trained staff in the right environment. The CRC’s General Comment No.15 stated that all countries have the obligations to ensure universal coverage of high-quality primary health services, including prevention, health promotion, care and treatment, and essential drugs.

  • Children’s rights: direct art 24 UN CRC
  • Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 3

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What is the problem with the right to health?
In many countries of the world, for different reasons like poverty, discrimination and religion, the right to health of many children is still violated. Let’s see some facts:  

  • 5.4 million children under age five died in 2017
  • More than half of these early child deaths are due to conditions that could be prevented or treated with access to simple, affordable interventions

That children don’t have access to health services can have different causes. For example it can be the case that there are not enough doctors, so if a child gets sick the doctor is too far to travel to. In other cases it can happen that some children don’t get access because they have a disease that has a taboo on it, so the medical staff does not want to help the child. Or it can happen that the health services are too expensive, so the family of the child can’t afford it. Unfortunately the UN CRC does not define the exact range of services that each child should be entitled to. This means that some sorts of (delicate) health services are not provided at all due to taboos or cultural stigmas, for example mental health services or services for sexual reproductive health.  

Why is the right to health important?
The right of the child to get access to health services is first of all important for the survival of children. The right to health is the key to bring down infant and child mortality. But also in not that urgent cases it combats diseases and makes sure that children are as healthy as they can be. The right to health also includes the right that children and their families are informed about the basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, like the importance of hygiene and sanitation.   The right to health is especially important for children, since untreated diseases can have long term and even a lifelong consequences when they are not treated or not treated in the right way.  

What can you do for health?

  • Health issue
    Is there a (local) health issue that people need to be informed about? Start an awareness campaign to educate people so they can take precautions or know what to do about the issue.
  • Access
    Does everybody in your community have access to health services, for example girls, children with disabilities or refugee children? If not, do some research on why they can’t go to the doctor or to the hospital and take action!