The role of law and human rights in public health: setting the agenda
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Faculty of Law, Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1655
Background and objective: Law is an important determinant of health. Previous research affirms the role of law in health inequalities. Burris and others have pointed out that law is both a vehicle through which health inequalities are exacerbated and a tool to reduce them and to improve social determinants. Within law, human rights are an important moral and legal tool to advance public health objectives. By giving expression to the vulnerability of the individual, human rights law can serve as an overarching framework protecting the rights and interests of those affected by health inequalities and poor social conditions. Law influences health, and human rights can protect important values when it comes to public health promotion and protection. However, truly interdisciplinary scholarship in the field is limited and it requires on-going maintenance. Legal and public health scholars should connect more to identify common approaches and to find common solutions. Methods: A literature review will be conducted to explore current interdisciplinary work addressing law, human rights and public health, with the aim of identifying research gaps and opportunities. Results: While several authors have expressed the importance of law for public health, this approach requires maintenance. It should be placed on the agenda of law and public health researchers and public health policymakers. Conclusions: Law plays an important role in improving health and in reducing health inequalities. This paper has identified some pathways in how this understanding and approach can be strengthened. References Burris, I Kawachi, A Sarat, “integrating law and social epidemiology” (2002) j l med ethics, 30, 510–521; S Burris, “from health care law to the social determinants of health: a public health law research perspective” (2011) U Penn L Rev 159(6), 1649–1667.BCA Toebes et al, health and human rights – global and European perspectives, intersentia, 2022 (2nd ed.).