Book Brief: Health Equity, Social Justice, and Human Rights

Ann Taket
Routledge (June 2012)
ISBN 9780415613750
224 pages

In Health Equity, Social Justice, and Human Rights, Ann Taket explains the importance of linking health and human rights, and how combining these concepts into a human rights framework can support public health and health advocacy efforts.

Taket first describes and analyzes global, regional, national, and subnational human rights systems, and the mechanisms these systems use to address human rights. She also delves briefly into the theories, covenants, and charters that govern both the health and human rights communities as well. In describing the theory behind the “right to health,” Taket points out that human rights should be considered as a key social and cultural determinant to health. She also evaluates the relationship between health equity and human rights, as well as the effects of human rights on health and social policy.

Taket and her contributing authors also incorporate case studies to her framework proposal. These provide examples of the inherently similar discourse that can be used to describe human rights and health issues. For example, in her chapter on “human rights and health equity,” Taket provides both domestic and global perspectives, looking in one case at the importance of protecting and promoting health rights of indigenous Australians and focusing on domestic violence as public health and human rights issues. With these examples, the interrelationships of human rights and health are demonstrated to be essential in expanding the field of public health and in understanding illness and disease.

This is a concise, well-organized book. By combining a theoretical and judicial framework with concrete case studies and charts, Taket provides a convincing argument about the “instrumental value” in considering health problems as human rights issues.