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Special Edition Magazine, Spring 2021: Back to Health: Making Up for Lost Time

A Rights-Based Path to Global Health

Only collective action, solidarity, and a renewed commitment to the values and institutions of multilateralism can secure a truly healthy and sustainable recovery for all. We need all three now, because we will need them in the years ahead.

OSLO – The global COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the inextricable links between health and human rights. Although the pandemic has left no corner of the world untouched, it is the poorest and most marginalized who have been worst affected by its health, economic, and social impact.

Women are particularly vulnerable to the pandemic’s long-lasting and severe economic shocks, given their disproportionate representation in the informal labor force. In addition, girls are more likely than boys to be denied educational opportunities as the crisis hits developing countries’ public finances and household budgets.

World leaders should therefore ensure that their national and international recovery plans are aligned with the World Health Organization’s constitution, which states that, “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being.” Nelson Mandela, whose life and legacy remind us that we must never abandon hope even in the bleakest circumstances, echoed that principle: “Health cannot be a question of income; it is a fundamental human right.”

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