To Heal Humankind: The Right to Health in History

Front Cover
Routledge, Jul 6, 2017 - Social Science - 240 pages

The "human right to healthcare" has had a remarkable rise. It is found in numerous international treaties and national constitutions, it is litigated in courtrooms across the globe, it is increasingly the subject of study by scholars across a range of disciplines, and—perhaps most importantly—it serves as an inspiring rallying cry for health justice activists throughout the world. However, though increasingly accepted as a principle, the historical roots of this right remain largely unexplored. To Heal Humankind: The Right to Health in History fills that gap, combining a sweeping historical scope and interdisciplinary synthesis. Beginning with the Age of Antiquity and extending to the Age of Trump, it analyzes how healthcare has been conceived and provided as both a right and a commodity over time and space, examining the key historical and political junctures when the right to healthcare was widened or diminished in nations around the globe.

To Heal Humankind will prove indispensable for all those interested in human rights, the history of public health, and the future of healthcare.


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Antiquity to the Early Modern
The Rightsand the Health
Public Health Social Medicine and Industrial Capitalism
Social Medicine
Towards the Modern
Poverty Labor and the Rise of New Liberalism
The Rhetoric and Reality of Health Rights in Depression
Health and Death in the Cold
The Right to Health in the Age of Neoliberalism

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About the author (2017)

Adam Gaffney is a physician, writer, public health researcher, and healthcare advocate. An Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, he practices pulmonary and critical care medicine at the Cambridge Health Alliance. He is active in the single-payer advocacy organization, Physicians for a National Health Program, and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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