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Our vision is a world where barriers to healthcare have been overcome, where healthcare is acknowledged as a fundamental right.

Témoignage – bearing witness – and striving for change has always been at the heart of our mission. Advocating on behalf of a patient is an essential part of being a doctor, and the original group of doctors that formed Médecins du Monde were determined to “testify to the intolerable” and speak out about the suffering of their patients.

Today, bearing witness to the circumstances of our patients, and working to tackle the causes of healthcare barriers and social injustice remains a core part of our work.

The right to healthcare

The right to health and healthcare is recognised several international treaties, and we fight to make sure states respect and protect this right for everyone.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states that everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and places an obligation on states to provide and ensure access to good quality healthcare services, but also covers the areas of life that affect health, such as good housing [1].

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is clear that children and pregnant women should be able to access healthcare, including antenatal and postnatal care [2].

Universal healthcare coverage

We work to ensure states uphold their commitments to provide equal and equitable access to quality healthcare services and medicines for everyone.

The WHO describes ‘health for all’, as its top priority [3], and in 2012 the United Nations (UN) signed a resolution committing governments to move towards providing all people with access to affordable, quality health-care services. The resolution states:

“all people have access, without discrimination, to nationally determined sets of the needed promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative basic health services and essential, safe, affordable, effective and quality medicines, while ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the users to financial hardship, with a special emphasis on the poor, vulnerable and marginalized segments of the population” [4]

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which strive to end all forms of poverty, identify the need for all countries to achieve universal healthcare coverage, and call for action by all countries, poor, rich and middle-income [5].

[5] https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg3