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I am happy to welcome you to this new volume of the Right to Health Quarterly. As the PSI newsletter for our global Right to Health campaign, over the past two years it has brought you news of the work PSI and its affiliates are doing across the world, to ensure every woman, man and child can access quality public health. We intend to do this even better.
The human right to health means that everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, which includes access to all medical services, sanitation, adequate food, decent housing, healthy working conditions and a clean environment. This right is protected in several international conventions, and reflected in the constitutions of at least 115 countries.
It is however clear that most people, particularly in low- and middle-Income countries, are denied this fundamental right in practice. To ensure "the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health" becomes a universal reality, governments and international institutions need to promote and implement policies which put People Over Profit.
In this edition, we look at how policies such as austerity measures and international financial institutions conditionalities undermine the right to health, and call for an end to such neoliberal policies. It is impossible to attain the targets or to “ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages” by 2030 within the neoliberal policy framework.
PSI represents over 14 million health and social care workers in 270 unions across 152 countries and territories. Our members bear the burden of cuts in the funding of healthcare and the marketisation of health services as workers and as members of their communities.
But we are not mere passive onlookers. We are actively organising to change the situation for the better. As you will see in several stories from all the regions, we are at the forefront of the struggle to realise the right to health.
We are not doing this alone. We continue to build alliances and forge coalitions with communities, civil society organisations and well-meaning decision-makers, including legislators. And one of the lessons to be learnt from many of these stories is that when we are united and determined, we can win.
Ending all policies that undermine health for all will be a well-deserved victory for billions of people who today cannot access quality health, or who face catastrophic health expenditure.