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Open Access Highly Accessed Debate

Human rights, health and the state in Bangladesh

Redwanur M Rahman

Author Affiliations

School of Public Health, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Vic-3086, Australia

Department of Political Studies & Public Administration, Shahjalal University of Science & Technology, Sylhet-3114, Bangladesh

BMC International Health and Human Rights 2006, 6:4  doi:10.1186/1472-698X-6-4

Published: 12 April 2006



This paper broadly discusses the role of the State of Bangladesh in the context of the health system and human rights. The interrelation between human rights, health and development are well documented. The recognition of health as a fundamental right by WHO and subsequent approval of health as an instrument of welfare by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights (ICSECR) further enhances the idea. Moreover, human rights are also recognized as an expedient of human development. The state is entrusted to realize the rights enunciated in the ICSECR.


In exploring the relationship of the human rights and health situation in Bangladesh, it is argued, in this paper, that the constitution and major policy documents of the Bangladesh government have recognized the health rights and development. Bangladesh has ratified most of the international treaties and covenants including ICCPR, ICESCR; and a signatory of international declarations including Alma-Ata, ICPD, Beijing declarations, and Millennium Development Goals. However the implementation of government policies and plans in the development of health institutions, human resources, accessibility and availability, resource distribution, rural-urban disparity, the male-female gap has put the health system in a dismal state. Neither the right to health nor the right to development has been established in the development of health system or in providing health care.


The development and service pattern of the health system have negative correlation with human rights and contributed to the underdevelopment of Bangladesh. The government should take comprehensive approach in prioritizing the health rights of the citizens and progressive realization of these rights.