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Table 2 Key Concepts for the interface between Human Rights and Health Equity

From: 'Issues of equity are also issues of rights': Lessons from experiences in Southern Africa

A "Public Health Approach" is that which addresses the health of whole populations, rather than individuals, using population level analyses to identify and implement strategies for improving well-being of communities, groups or whole populations.
"Equity" (vertical equity) refers to policies and programmes that aim to address the prevention of health inequalities – differences in health outcomes that are unnecessary, avoidable and unfair, for example, by allocating greater resources to those in greater need. Vertical equity therefore applies to the process of reaching equal outcomes, of allocating greater resources to ensure reductions in health outcome differentials and, by necessity, implies addressing the power imbalances that underlie inequalities in outcomes and processes[27].
Human rights take the form of claims that individuals can legitimately exercise on society to various material or social entitlements deemed essential for dignity and well-being. These claims are based on international governmental consensus incorporated in international law. Unlike principles of medical ethics, once a treaty is ratified by a state, it can be held accountable for its conduct. Human rights are indivisible, including both civil and political, and socio-economic, as well as developmental (environmental/ecological) rights.
Civil and political rights include traditional freedoms (e.g. of speech, to vote, of movement, etc). Socio-economic rights (e.g. housing, health care, education, etc) are entitlements to services or goods that are social in nature. Supposed distinctions between socio-economic, on the one hand, and civil and political rights are increasingly being recognized as a historically-specific political choice driven by the the Cold War. Currently, global policy formation is therefore increasingly acknowledging the indivisibility of all human rights.
A "Human Rights Approach" embraces four elements[31,35]:
1. The use of human rights standards and norms to develop policy and programmes
2. The use of human rights standards and norms to analyse and critique government performance, sometimes combined with a monitoring function
3. The use of human rights standards and norms to facilitate redress for those who suffer violations of their rights.
4. The use of human rights standards and norms to support advocacy and civil society mobilization.
Health as a human right is articulated both as access to health care and as the right to health creating-conditions (such as housing, education, a safe environment, etc) in national and international statutes. Government's core obligations to realising the right of access to health care is elaborated in General Comment 14 issued by the United Nations Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights[36].