Concept of Public Health Law : As defined by James A Tobey . “Public health law is that branch of jurisprudence which treats of the application of common and statutory law to the principles of hygiene and sanitary science” Public health law consists of legislative (passed by parliament) and judicial (the judgment of a court) statements of rules or
norms governing health interventions or health behaviors.
Public health law is the study of the legal powers and duties of the state to assure the conditions for people to be healthy (to identify, prevent, and ameliorate risks to health in the population) and the limitations on the power of the state to constrain the autonomy, privacy, liberty, proprietary, or other legally protected interests of individuals for the common good .Public health law shares conceptual terrain with the field of law and medicine, or health care law, but remains a distinct discipline. Public health law and acts are the legislative tools or measures to establish, operate and strengthen PH system that ensure access to PH services to all population based on social Justice (equity and equality) and ensures legal aspect of health services and health as fundamental right of people by law of the states and governments
Public health law narrowly as a complex set of technical rules buried within state health codes. But public health law should be seen broadly as the authority for and responsibility of organized society to ensure the conditions for the population’s health. The PH law can be empowering, providing innovative solutions to the most implacable health problems. Of the ten great public health achievements in the twentieth
century, most were realized, at least in part, through law reform or litigation: vaccinations, safer workplaces, safer and healthier foods, motor vehicle safety, control of infectious diseases, tobacco control, fluoridation of drinking water, family planning, healthier mothers and babies, and the decline in deaths from coronary
heart disease and stroke
Public health law consists of the basic statutes that empower public health agencies and a number of legal
- Taxation and spending: eg deductions for health insurance; excise taxes on tobacco products and sugary drinks etc
- The information environment: Eg, educate the public, require labeling of food, drugs, tobacco, and other hazardous products, and regulate advertising (for example, restricting ads that target children).
- The built environment : Eg, reducing the concentration of fast food, firearm, liquor, or gambling outlets and investing in public transportation, parks, bicycle paths, and recreational facilities
- The socioeconomic environment : Eg, allocate resources and create policies to reduce the vast inequalities in health related to socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, or geography by supporting access to housing, education, and income.
- Direct regulation. Eg, regulate individuals (such as by imposing travel restrictions or mandating vaccination to control infectious disease), professionals (such as by imposing health and safety regulation on health care professionals and others via licensing authority).
- Indirect regulation through the tort system. Attorneys and private citizens can use civil litigation to different kinds of public health harms relating to the environment (such as air or water pollution), toxic substances (such as pesticides or radiation), hazardous products (such as tobacco or firearms), and defective
- Deregulation. Sometimes laws need to be reformed because they pose an obstacle to the public’s health –for example, prohibitions against distribution of sterile injection equipment to illicit drug users as part of HIV/AIDS prevention programs.
Learn More at www.lawcommission.gov.np
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