Health Issue Of Female Genital Cutting

1753 words - 8 pages

Should a community have to choose between the right to practice their culture and the right to health? The right to health is a highly contestable right, especially when it may conflict with traditional rights or local customs. In the article “Health Systems and the Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health,” Paul Hunt and Gunilla Backman discuss the components of a health system and how to implement it and right to the ‘highest attainable health.’ Notably among the components, Hunt and Backman argue that there is a need for “international cooperation [to actualize] health as a global public good,” a “respect of cultural differences,” and balances between “competing human rights” (83-86). Many irreconcilable conflicts arose, when Hunt and Backman applied their framework to the violation of the right to health, which health committee members discussed in Bettina Shell-Duncan’s article “From Health to Human Rights: Female Genital Cutting (FGC) and the Politics of Intervention.” Shell-Duncan’s article covers the implications of realizing FGC as a right to health because of its cultural importance. In this paper, I will use the health issue of female genital cutting to explain how actualizing “the highest attainable standard of health” as defined by Hunt and Backman can lead to many conflicts that their framework fails to resolve.
The Hunt and Backman’s article explained a right-to-health approach that would serve to improve health systems. Their article presents the position that health is a human right, which local and national stakeholders must hold to the “highest attainable standard,” based on assumption on the World Health Organization’s Constitution (1946) and the Declaration of Alma-Ata (1978). In this paper, I will make the same assumption. The core of Hunt and Backman’s framework rests on the “well-being of individuals, communities, and populations,” which assumes a holistic approach when considering the right to health (82). They stress processes and outcomes; finally, what matters is what a health system does and how it achieves its objectives. Transparency is needed because everyone should have access to essential health information. Participation from the community is a component because everyone is a stakeholder. Hunt and Backman also stress equity, equality, and non-discrimination because health systems must be accessible to everyone and protected by the law. They also argue that health committee members must show respect for cultural differences. Medical care is one crucial component of a health system, but covering health determinants is equally critical in Hunt and Backman’s framework. They also cover the need for progressive realization to implement health systems effectively and account for resource accessibility. However, Hunt and Backman state that distinct from the progressive realization component are “duties of immediate effect” which requires that a list of minimum essentials be guaranteed and...

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