Despite the fact that UN Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly states that all children with special health requirements have a right to the care needed to enable them to live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible, the sad reality is that in resource-poor countries any child with any chronic health condition (that is, any health condition that lasts more than 3 months) is immediately susceptible to entirely preventable disability and death. CLAN believes these children have a right to health and life, and that more international attention should be given to this issue.
Children have a right to health!
If CLAN is going to try and raise international awareness of the plight of children who are living with chronic health conditions in resource-poor countries, it is important for us to ask ourselves some tough questions... "Why should the world care?"... "Does it matter that children are sick and dying of preventable disease and disability?"...
Thankfully, the international community has agreed on some basic concepts relating to human rights, and it is useful to review these in relation to the issues facing children living with chronic health conditions in resource-poor settings. Examples include:
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – Article 25 – All persons have the right to health; specifically, children have a right to special care and assistance.
- Article 3 of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) – “in all actions concerning children…the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration”.
- Article 6 of UNCROC and Article 6 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – All children have a “right to life”.
- Article 12 of International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ECOSOC) – everyone has the right to “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”. State parties should create “conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention”.
- Article 24(1) and 24(2)(b) of UNCROC – children specifically have the right to good quality health care and the best health care possible. State parties have a duty “to ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children”.
- “Access to medicine is a fundamental element in achieving progressively the full realization of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” (12th Session of Human Rights Council (HRC) in 2009; ECOSOC Committee and Millennium Development Goal 8).
- HRC resolution (A/HRC/12/L.23) calls for expert consultation on the “realisation of access to medicine” to achieve right of all to “highest ascertainable standard of physical and mental health”. This is the first step to securing formal recognition of the right to medicine.
We all have a role to play in effecting change.
CLAN has been working with partners from around the world to develop a series of Child-Friendly Rights Flyers, that help children and adolescents living with chronic health conditions learn more about their basic human rights to health and life.
Read more about our recent successes on advocating for child rights here.