All About Health by HaKita
Authored by: Belinda Chow Jia Hui
Edited by: Larissa Ann
Understanding Right to Health
The right to health is considered as a worldwide fundamental human right with World Health Day being celebrated every year on the 7th of April. The right to health is one of the rights adopted in domestic law and constitutional law globally.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the right to health must be granted to all without gender, age, race, or ethnicity discrimination. This right should not be seen in isolation from other rights such as the right to education, right to work, right to information etc.
Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) guarantees the right to standard of living adequate for the health and well-being. Similarly, Article 12 of International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights grants right to everyone for the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
The right to the highest attainable standard of health refers to the states’ legal obligation to ensure appropriate conditions for the enjoyment of health for all people without discrimination. The principle of non-discrimination ensures these rights are granted to all notwithstanding different economic or social background and nationality.
Healthcare System in Malaysia
In Malaysia, the healthcare provision is based on a dual system with stakeholders from public and private sector with the government being the main regulatory body.
Through the years, the Malaysian government has launched various health initiatives to ensure improvements of welfare amongst healthcare workers such as the Tenth Malaysia Plan 2011-2015, twelfth Malaysia Plan 2021-2025 etc.
In Malaysia, among the legislations governing matters in relation to health includes Penal Code, Medical Act 1971, Prevention & Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, Telemedicine Act 1997, Child Act 2001 etc.
The Government subsidises almost 95% of the treatment cost in the public healthcare sector. However, such benefit is only granted to Malaysian citizens while non-Malaysians would be required to pay a higher price for the services.
The right to health is indirectly guaranteed under Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution which states that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty subject to restrictions and limitations.
The Court of Appeal in Tan Teck Seng v Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Pendidikan and Anor  1 MLJ 261 held that the word ‘life’ in Article 5 includes the right to live in a reasonably healthy and pollution-free environment instead of mere human existence.
It was also mentioned in Suzana bt Md Aris v DSP Ishak bin Hussain & Ors  1 MLJ 107 that a person deprived of liberty is also in a vulnerable position of being deprived of life if his plea for medical treatment was set aside.
Doctors on Ground (DnG)
In conjunction with World Health Day being celebrated in April, THURights with HaKita joined forces with Arissa, the founder of Doctors on Ground (DnG) to dive into a more detailed conversation on various aspects of the right to health.
For more details: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CrQntpkBJvx/
In 2021, DnG was established as a non-profit organisation with the vision to provide basic healthcare to people from all walks of life such as refugees, marginalised communities etc in Malaysia within the safety of one’s home. The healthcare and community development for underprivileged societies include a wide range of programs and initiatives to improve access to healthcare, education, and other essential services.
Arissa emphasised that volunteers in DnG comprised of people from different backgrounds. It was not a necessity for a volunteer to have a medical background to be involved.
If you are interested in volunteering with DnG, do kindly visit their website as attached below for more information!
Did you know: Malaysia’s Healthcare System
Access to Healthcare
In rural areas of Malaysia, access to healthcare facilities is considerably low due to the distance between the villages and available healthcare facilities.
What about refugees? UNHCR has made an arrangement with the Malaysian Government that allows refugees who have registered with the UNHCR to gain access to public healthcare facilities at half the price charged to non-citizens.
Empowerment of Right to Health
It is crucial for issues arising in Malaysia’s healthcare system to be dealt with. Arissa and Christine both agreed that these issues should be addressed in the public for all to be made aware of. The general public should interact with more healthcare conversation in terms of healthcare politics, economics, education that does not merely revolve around the topic of surgeries and emergency wards etc as the right to health covers a wide scope and it cannot be isolated from the country’s economic and social development.