HIFA survey: Q4: Access to reliable healthcare information is (or should be) a human right? (2)

1 September, 2023

Neil and HIFA colleagues

I would add one point in particular to this. The survey refers to the moral obligation of governments to improve the availability and use of evidence-based healthcare information. However, as was noted in the HIFA/New York Law School paper on this topic , and also in a subsequent article in the Lancet (see https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/langlo/PIIS2214-109X(13)70043-3.pdf ), provision of such information is not only a moral obligation for governments, it is also a legal one.

Under international human rights law and treaties governments are legally obliged to take steps to improve access to health information. As far as I know, there is no single state that has explicitly recognised this obligation. Nor, seemingly, has there ever been any legal action seeking to hold governments to account on it.

So, an issue for HIFA (apart from considering the case for access to reliable health information being a human right in itself) - what avenues could there be to encourage, persuade or pressure states to fulfil their legal obligations in regard to universal access to the determinants of health, particularly health (care) information?

Best Regards


Dr Geoff Royston


+44(0)7531 125436


Make your voice heard - complete the HIFA survey in collaboration with the WHO on universal access to healthcare information at www.hifa.org/survey2023


HIFA profile: Geoff Royston is an Independent Health Analyst and Researcher, former Head of Strategic Analysis and Operational Research in the Department of Health for England, and Past President of the UK Operational Research Society. His work has focused on informing the design, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes in health and social care, and on fostering the capabilities of others to work in these areas. Associated activities have included modelling for understanding the performance of complex systems, analysis and communication of risk, and horizon scanning and futures thinking. He has also worked on information and communication technology in the health sector, notably in leading the design and national launch of the telephone and online health information and advice service NHS Direct. He has served on both scientific and medical UK Research Council panels, and as an impact assessor for the UK higher education Research Excellence Framework. He is a member of the editorial board for the journal Health Care Management Science and in 2012 was Guest Editor for its special issue on Global Health. He has been a consultant for the World Health Organisation, is a long standing member of the EURO Working Group on Operational Research Applied to Health Services, and is an expert adviser to the mHIFA (mobile Healthcare Information for All) programme. http://www.hifa.org/projects/mobile-hifa-mhifa He is also a member of the main HIFA Steering Group and the HIFA working group on Evaluating the Impact of Healthcare Information. http://www.hifa.org/support/members/geoff geoff.royston AT gmail.com