The Lancet   |  October 15, 2014

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A key and distinctive feature of Latin America is the explicit discourse around the right to health. Many countries have translated this commitment into practice by incorporating rights principles and standards in constitutions and legislation, together with health policies and programmes, to treat health as an asset of citizenship rather than a market commodity, and to promote an equitable path to universal health coverage. Human-rights-based approaches (HRBAs) are characterised by a focus on the underlying social determinants of health and an emphasis on the principles of accountability, meaningful participation, transparency, and equality and non-discrimination. 1 Understanding governments as duty bearers and health system users as claims holders has been fundamental to holding governments to account with respect to achieving aspects of universal health coverage equitably in Latin America, a region marked by profound social inequality, which is reflected in health disparities.

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