Table 1

Complementarities between public health ethics and human rights

How public health ethics can contribute to human rights:

How human rights can contribute to public health ethics:


By reinforcing the normative claims of international human rights law

By strengthening advocacy for human rights

By bridging the divide between public health practitioners and human rights advocates in certain contemporary health domains.

By contributing to discourses on the determinants of health through:

a. definitions of the right to health and the notion of the indivisibility of rights

b. emphasis on the duties of states to progressively realize the health of citizens

c. recognition of the protection of human rights as itself a determinant of health

By refocusing attention on the health and illness on marginalized individuals and populations.


Nixon and Forman BMC International Health and Human Rights 2008 8:2   doi:10.1186/1472-698X-8-2

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