Unequal access to medicines


Sir, – Dr Domhnall McGlacken-Byrne states that healthcare is a human right (Letters, April 23rd). He is correct but it is interesting to observe that of the 30 articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, healthcare doesn’t get a mention until article 25 and even then doesn’t get an article to itself. Instead healthcare is almost an addendum which states, inter alia, that “everyone has a right to ... food, clothing, housing and medical care”.

The amount of medical care one has a right to receive is sensibly undefined in the declaration. Possibly the authors realised back in the 1940s that expensive cancer drugs prolonging survival by a year or two would eventually be available, but at such a cost that sacrifices would have to be made in the provision of healthcare in other areas.

We need to debate how to balance the provision of these expensive new anti-cancer drugs with the provision of medical cards for children and better care of the elderly in their own homes.

Perhaps an insurance scheme solely intended to cover the cost of newer anti-cancer drugs should be introduced. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.