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Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (informed consent), 2009

United Nations UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health International Human Rights Instruments and Resources Reports of UN Special Rapporteurs United Nations 10 August 2009 Report A/64/272 human rights

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Guaranteeing informed consent is fundamental to achieving the enjoyment of
the right to health through practices, policies and research that are respectful of
autonomy, self-determination and human dignity. An enabling environment that
prioritizes informed consent links counselling, testing and treatment, creating an
effective voluntary health-care continuum. Safeguarding informed consent along the
health-care continuum is an obligation placed on States and third parties engaged in
respecting, promoting and fulfilling the right to health. This requires States to ensure
that information is fully available, acceptable, accessible and of good quality, and
imparted and comprehended by means of supportive and protective measures such as
counselling and involvement of community networks.

In the present report the Special Rapporteur considers the evolution of
informed consent and discusses its main components in section II. In section III he
discusses both the role of informed consent in realizing the right to health and the
particular issues, duties and obligations required of States and health-care providers
in guaranteeing informed consent in clinical practice, public health and medical
research. Section IV outlines the need for law, policy and practice to take into
account the vulnerability of certain individuals whose rights are compromised owing
to deep-rooted power imbalances and structural inequalities, presenting particular
responsibilities to States, health-care providers and third parties involved in ensuring
non-discrimination in achieving the right to health. The Special Rapporteur
emphasizes in the conclusion of this report the importance of prioritizing informed
consent as a critical element of a voluntary counselling, testing and treatment
continuum in the development of guidance for clinical practice, public health
evidence, and medical research protocols, with special attention to the needs of
vulnerable groups.


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