Include Health as a Right in Constitution: SERAC-Bangladesh on UHC Day 2015


The United Nations has adopted 17 sustainable development goals for eliminating poverty and building a more resilient planet. One of those goals includes providing universal health coverage. The main aim is to eliminate the disparity in healthcare services accessed by both poor and rich people in the world. Worldwide, 400 million people lack the most basic life-saving health care, and 17% of people in low- and middle-income countries are pushed or further pushed into poverty (US$2/day) because of health spending. Up to one-third of households in Africa and Southeast Asia borrow money or sell assets to pay for health care. There is not much difference in case of Bangladesh too. Environmental pollution, consumption of toxic food, consumption behavior, and change in lifestyles are causing spread of diseases like cancer, diabetes, cardiac arrests, high blood pressure, stroke, kidney failure and other non communicable diseases. Billions of dollars are spent after treatment and medicines, but improvements are not satisfactory enough.

Economists found, every $1 that a country invests in health today can produce up to $20 in full-income growth within a generation. So it is high time to put more emphasis on health care access issues. The Constitution of Bangladesh does not include health as a right but as a basic need, which prevents poor people to claim equitable health service from government. Focusing this issue, SERAC-Bangladesh demanded health to be included as a right in the Constitution, to ensure all person can access equitable health services as needed. On the eve of the Universal Health Coverage Day on December 12, 2015, SERAC-Bangladesh organized a mass awareness campaign and human chain in Mymensingh to uphold this demand.

Campaigners demanded, Bangladesh constitution necessarily stated there will be no discrimination to any groups in the state, while access to heath care is still not affordable to many and this causes clear prejudice between a poor and a richer person. So the answer is to declare health as a right and ensure necessary health care services are available at affordable costs to everyone. Participants include SERAC-Bangladesh volunteers Roman Mia, Jahidul Islam, Ajharul Mia, Sabina Yasmin, Anwar Jahan Titu, Anisur Rahman, Shamima Akter, and Hasina Akter, while the events were moderated by SERAC-Bangladesh project officer Barkatullah Bhuyan.

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