Medicine and Human Rights

Equality, Quality, Social Responsibility: as expressed in the "Manifesto for a Human Rights-Based Medicine," these three principles should guide health systems.

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." Recognising this principle "constitutes the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world."

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Paris, 10th December 1948, Preamble and Article 1

We believe that access to medical treatment is a fundamental right and should be ensured for every individual. In order for care to be accessible, it must be completely free; to ensure that it is effective, it must be of high quality.

This is why, every day, we practice medicine based on the principles of:


Every human being has the right to be treated, without discrimination, with the best possible care.


Health systems need to be of high quality and based on the needs of everyone, not the few.

Social Responsibility

Governments should consider the health and well-being of their citizens a priority and care must be free and accessible to anyone who needs it.

It is the EQS (Equality, Quality, Social Responsibility) Model that we proposed in the Manifesto for a Human Rights-Based Medicine.

We declare ‘the right to be treated’ as a fundamental and inalienable right belonging to every member of the human family.

From the 'Manifesto for a Human Rights-Based Medicine'

To discuss this model, we met on the island of San Servolo, in the Venetian lagoon in May 2008, with the delegations of the ministries of health from eight African Countries for the ‘Building Medicine in Africa’ seminar.

Together with EMERGENCY, representatives of the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda discussed how to guarantee African citizens the right to free and high-quality healthcare.

The conclusions of the seminar were elaborated upon in the Manifesto for a Human Rights-Based Medicine in which the signatories acknowledge the “right to be treated” as a “fundamental and inalienable right belonging to each member of the human family” and ask for healthcare based on equality, quality and social responsibility.

The ‘Manifesto for a Human Rights-Based Medicine’

After the ‘Building Medicine in Africa. Principles and Strategies’ event hosted on San Servolo Island, Venice, Italy, on May 14 -15 2008 and in accordance with the spirit and the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stating that

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (art.1)
“Everyone has the right…to medical care” (art.25)
“The recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” (Preamble)

We hereby declare
the “Right to be Cured” as a basic and inalienable right belonging to each and every member of the human community.

We therefore advocate
the implementation of health systems and projects solely devoted to preserve, extend and improve the life of the people in need and based on the following principles:

Every human being has the right to be cured regardless his economic and social condition, gender, race, language, religion and opinions. Standards of health care, set by the progress of medical knowledge, must be delivered equally and without discrimination to all patients.

High quality health systems must be based on community’s needs, up to date with the achievements of medical science, and not oriented, shaped or determined by lobbies and corporations involved in the health industry.

Social responsibility
Governments must have the health and well being of their citizens as their priority, and allocate adequate human and financial resources.
The services provided by health systems and humanitarian projects in the health sector must be accessible to and free of charge for all.

As Health Authorities and Humanitarian Organizations

We recognize
EQS (Equality, Quality, Social responsibility) based health systems and projects as respectful of human rights, appropriate to develop medical science and effective in promoting health by strengthening and generating human, scientific and material resources.

We commit
To plan and develop EQS based policies, health systems and projects.
To cooperate among us to identify common needs in the health sector and design joint programmes.

We appeal
To other Health Authorities and Humanitarian Organisations to sign this Manifesto and to join in promoting an EQS based medicine.
To donors and to the international aid community to support, fund and participate in designing and implementing EQS based programmes.

The Manifesto put into practice: the African Network of Medical Excellence

The principles outlined in the “Manifesto for Human Rights-Based Medicine” have been developed into the definition of ANME (African Network of Medical Excellence) in 2010, which is an initiative comprising of EMERGENCY together with representatives and authorities from across Africa to develop an integrated network of Medical Centres of Excellence across the continent, affirming the right of every human being to access free, high-quality medical care.

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