Health / Life Sciences

What are our health rights?

Emilia Saborío. October 2021

The Ombudsman's Office has defined citizen participation as "...the right of every inhabitant to participate in the definition of rules, rights and obligations and to have mechanisms that guarantee that these rights are made effective", clarifying that, in matters of health, true participation implies "the interference of citizens in the definition of policies and regulations, operation and provision of health services."

For your part, international human rights treaties highlight the State's obligation to promote citizen participation in setting priorities, decision-making, planning, design, implementation, and evaluation of public health policies.

The foregoing because public management corresponds to society in whole and not to the government solely, who is only the administrator of the management and as such is in charge of satisfying the public interest, which is nothing other than "the expression of individual interests coincident of the administrators”; interest that must prevail over that of the Public Administration when it may conflict.

What must the state do?

  • Promote the participation of the population in the decisions at the national and community level in matters of health.
  • Adopt the specific legal instruments to guarantee this citizen participation and remove all the obstacles so that this participation is effective.
  • Strengthen trust and cooperation between public institutions and civil society entities to improve health services.

What are the benefits of citizen participation?

It counterbalances the power of politicians and civil servants in public administration.

It favors the development of community health, by assigning responsibilities to the community in the planning, administration, management and control of actions that seek to improve community health (DH)
Permite contar a las instituciones públicas con la información necesaria acerca de las necesidades de salud de los habitantes, para su satisfacción.(DH)

It enables the same people to exercise better social control over the system. (DH)

Social security constitutes one of the fundamental pillars of our democratic system and the stability of the system depends on the excellence in the provision of these services. This excellence will only be achieved to the extent that there is awareness of the importance of involving civil society in the design and execution of public policies in the area of health.

On this subject, the Report of the State of the Nation has said with good reason.

In a democracy, the citizenry is not simply an audience of the rulers. The sovereignty of power resides in it and this is the basis of its participation in politics.


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