Evolution and Complementarity? Traditional and Complementary Medicine as Part of the International Human Rights Law Right to Health

Angela Doolan, Greg Carne

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In International Human Rights Law, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights defines the right to health as the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Millions of peopleuse traditional and complementary medicine (‘T&CM’) to realise their right to health. This article analyses whether the scope of the right to health includes T&CM. Although not expressly provided for in the legally binding treaties, there is substantial evidence in international law to infer a right to T&CM as part of the right to health. The article analyses some of the failings of T&CM policy and regulation in Australia and offers a draft convention article in the recently proposed Framework Convention on Global Health (‘FCGH’) which codifies an express and legally binding right to T&CM. This would assist States Parties address the policy, legislative and regulatory gaps that currently exist regarding T&CM. A clear duty imposed on States Parties would ensure everyone including indigenous peoples have access to quality, safe, culturally appropriate, and effective T&CM health care facilities, goods and services. States Parties including the Australian Government might then more effectively harness the potential contribution of T&CM, and fundamentally reorientate health systems towards significantly more cost-effectivewellness and people centred health care in realising the right to health for all.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
JournalBond Law Review
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2020


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