KUWAIT: The launch of the Health Rights Committee of the Society was announced yesterday. Khalid Al-Hamidi Al-Ajmi, Chairman of the Board of Kuwait Human Rights Society, said that the launch of the committee represents a large development and a quantum leap in the work of the Society because the right to health is closely related to the realization of the other human rights and depends on that. It is contained in the international conventions on human rights, including the right to food, housing, work, education, human dignity, life, non-discrimination, equality, prohibition of torture, privacy, and access to information. These rights and freedoms and others are indivisible and complement each other.
Ajmi also said that the committee will include elite of specialists and experts in this field, headed by Dr Manal Bu Haimed, one of the leading specialists in this field in the region. She holds a doctorate in Philosophy (PHD) on the ethics of medical professionals from the University of Glasgow in Britain as the first female Kuwaiti physician in this field. She also has a specialized postdoctoral fellowship from MacLean Center on Clinical Ethics at the University of Chicago in the United States and holds several international awards. She is currently a faculty member in the College of Medicine at the University of Kuwait and the Vice President of the International Bioethics Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IBC-UNESCO) among a team of 36 experts at the international level in this field.
Occupational health and safety
On the other hand, Dr Manal Bu Haimed, Chairperson of the Committee said that the committee will have a lot of tasks, perhaps one of the most prominent is to receive complaints concerning the right to occupational health and safety from all segments of the society, study them, send them to the competent authorities, follow them up and provide assistance in finding solutions. That is besides supporting the government’s efforts in improving health sector through the implementation of field visits to various sites of health care and highlighting any violations may occur in that sector. Bu Haimed explained that the human right to health is a fundamental right, according to several instruments and conventions on human rights.
Paragraph “1” of Article “15” of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for one’s and their family’s health including food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services”. Also Article “12/1” of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”. And Article 12/2 of the Covenant affirms, for example, a number of “measures that states parties shall be taken to ensure the full realization of this right”.
She added that the right to health is recognized in Article “5” of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and in the articles “11/12” of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as Article “24” of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The right to health is recognized in a number of regional human right instruments.
Bu Haimed confirmed that the right to health was given special importance by the Kuwaiti legislature as stated in Article 15 (the State is concerned with public health and the prevention and treatment means of diseases and epidemics).
She indicated that the right to health includes freedoms and benefits as well. The freedoms include the right to one’s control of their own health, including the right not to undergo medical treatment and medical experiments without their own permission. The benefits include the right to health protection system (i.e. health care and basic elements of health) that provides people with equal opportunities in the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health.
Bu Haimed called specialists and those interested in this aspect to participate in the Committee as health situations that recently took place in our country require us to unite efforts, report any violations, and promote this sector and thereby contribute to building the future Kuwait.