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Legal Tools to Improve Health and Wellness

Tuesday, February 14, 2017By Richard Alexander

The importance of law as a tool for improving health and wellbeing across the nation and across the world has been brought into the limelight by a recent report, Advancing the Right to Health: The Vital Role of Law, published by the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Development Law Organization, the University of Sydney, Australia and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, USA. The report focused on three main topics: advancing the right to health through law reform, the process of public health law reform and priorities for public health law reform. Although legal means are often underutilized to improve overall public health and wellbeing, they can be incredibly powerful tools when properly harnessed.

Improving Health and Wellbeing with the Law

In the report, many different healthcare improvements and worldwide examples were cited, including those that were brought about specifically through legal means. Legislation associated with tobacco control, maternal and reproductive health, air pollution, child health, access to medicines, obesity and many other critical healthcare topics have been implemented with great success in improving public health in many different countries across the world.

The Importance of Patient Advocacy

While many people in and out of government sectors understand the need for conscientious and thoughtful health and wellness legislation, in many cases, it comes down to patient advocacy and non-governmental organizations to get things moving in the right direction. Policy makers take notice of issues associated with strong public interest and pressure for safer healthcare.

Health, Wellness and Safety Litigation

When you get down to brass tacks, the demand for better quality and safer healthcare comes from those of us in civil, non-governmental, patient advocacy roles. Litigation is a critical part of how civil laws impact long-lasting public health policy and legislation. If a dangerous or negligent aspect of the healthcare system has harmed a person, he or she may have a remedy in the civil legal system. When it comes to dangerous drugs, medical devices or other public health concerns, personal injury lawyers are on the frontlines of public safety.

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