“Health cannot be a question of income; it is a fundamental human right”

The Elders, a group founded by Nelson Mandela, are celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth with the #WalkTogether campaign.

Graça Machel takes up the issue of healthcare writing, “In our ongoing fight for health and justice, let us again recall the words of Nelson Mandela: “health cannot be a question of income; it is a fundamental human right.”

Universal health coverage is a major part of the Sustainable Development Goals – the internationally recognised extension of the Millennium Development Goals.

Health underpins an individual’s ability to live a full life and make use of their other human rights. When full healthcare is not available in line with the standards of UHC it can have devastating effects.

This is especially the case for people already living vulnerably. Healthcare is tightly woven in with poverty, education, infrastructure and other development issues.

Bad health or injury can see a family get into debt. They might need to sacrifice food, or keep children out of education if they are unable to afford it, or it is necessary for the children to work. Not only is there the lost income from the person needing healthcare and little safety net. There are also often high fees for medical services as well as travel and other associated costs.

We have looked before at how these issues can spill over into other areas of life. An accident can mean children leaving school early, affecting their life chances.

Ms Machel writes, “I know from personal experience in southern Africa that affordable, accessible and quality health care is vitally important in building inclusive, prosperous and sustainable societies.”

At the Gardiner Foundation we believe that self employment and entrepreneurship can provide a solid foundation to lift an individual, their family and community out of poverty. This has a positive impact on all the other areas of their life including access to healthcare and education. Which in turn can improve living standards and wages.

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

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