GENEVA, June 8 (Xinhua) -- China on Tuesday said that the highest attainable standard of health was a fundamental right for everyone and that all states bore the responsibility to promote universal and equal access to health services.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the ongoing 35th Human Rights Council session here, Gong Xiangguang, a senior official from China's National Health and Family Planning Commission, said that providing an efficient health system for all citizens was a key priority for the Chinese government.
He said that the lack of resources long suffered by the health system in China had been resolved.
"Important reforms have been undertaken in order to improve the public health service system. In the last 10 years, life expectancy in China has consistently risen and mortality rates at birth have fallen," he said.
The Chinese government particularly stressed preventive measures and effective cure policies for all epidemics, while subsidies have also been raised to address a wide range of diseases, Gong said. A public health project on combating AIDS has been implemented.
"Another key goal of China is the improvement of legislation and regulations in the domain of public health emergencies," he said.
Kate Gilmore, Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a keynote speech to the panel discussion that states were legally obliged under international law to enable people to realize their right to health, which was a prerequisite for the fulfilment of all other human rights.
Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, said that a government's ability to provide adequate health and social measures depended on having fundamental health capacities in place.
"The right to health depends on regulatory authorities that keep water, air, food and medicines safe, and protected populations from exposure to harmful chemicals," she noted.
She also stressed that legislation was one of the best ways to confer population-wide protection against threats to health, and universal health coverage operated as a significant poverty reduction strategy and, thus, as a nation-building strategy, it was one of the most powerful social equalizers among all policy options.