UN COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS UK STRENGTHENS ITS HUMAN RIGHTS OBLIGATIONS WITHIN HEALTHCARE
PHR-UK attended the meeting of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on May 6th and 7th to consider the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by the UK Government. This is the fourth appearance by the UK before the Committee, which sits in Geneva and examines States parties every five years.
PHR-UK provided the Committee, which consists of 18 independent experts, with copies of its report on the UK’s implementation of the right to health, which is Article 12 of the Covenant. One Committee member referred to information received from the PHR-UK Report during the session, and commented that the Committee had found it extremely helpful. The Committee also had copies of a report, produced by a coalition of UK NGOs, to which PHR-UK had contributed a chapter on the right to health.
PHR-UK’s Senior Adviser Bernie Hamilton addressed the Committee at its NGO session, a week earlier. The Committee paid great interest to the right to health, which is one of ten substantive rights listed in the Covenant, and devoted twice as much time as they normally do to its consideration. Many of the Committee’s questions relating to the right to health reflected the concerns outlined in our report. Below is a summary of the main points raised.
Paul HUNT [New Zealand]
What mechanisms are in place within the Administration to ensure that the UK’s obligations under the treaty are taken into account when formulating economic, social and cultural policies, including those of international financial institutions of which the UK is a member, as well as those obligations of other States parties ?
Should health care standards within the UK overseas territories be seen as equivalent to those of the UK or of neighbouring States, and if the latter, is this discrimination ?
Yuri KOLOSOV [Russian Federation]
Does human rights education include the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights ?
Is it provided at primary, secondary and higher levels ?
Is it provided to police officers, social workers, nurses and judges?
Is the right to health available to each child ?
Waleed SADI [Jordan]
What is the availability of abortion in Northern Ireland for the poor as the rich can afford private abortions?
Given the problems experienced by Canada with privatisation, is the NHS working ?
Is there an anti-smoking campaign ?
What is known about the causes of cancer in the UK ?
What is the incidence of, and treatment for, cardiovascular
Eibe RIEDEL [Germany]
... drew attention to a report submitted [...] by Physicians for Health -UK, ...
Have waiting times been reduced?
Has a Care Standards Commission been established as a result of the Care Standards Act of 2001 ?
What access to private medical treatment is there by minorities, the marginalised and travellers ?
What access is there to tertiary care for the most vulnerable in society?
Are condoms, clean needles and appropriate immunization
available for the prison population ?
What is the medical school selection process, and how are the disadvantaged selected ?
What is the situation with regard to bullying within the medical profession, described as 37 per cent in the British Medical Journal ?
How does the Cancer Plan 2000 cover palliative care ?
Sergei MARTYNOV [Belarus]
What is the situation regarding access to health care, given that three out of four health managers believed that discrimination against the elderly existed ?