The right to health as a tool of social control: compulsory treatment orders by courts in Brazil

FILHO, Luciano Bottini (2022). The right to health as a tool of social control: compulsory treatment orders by courts in Brazil. Health and human rights journal, 24 (1), 159-169.

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Brazilian citizens have a constitutional right to health. This right has also been a powerful instrument in the judicial enforcement of drug dependence treatment in Brazil. This study reviews a sample of decisions from the state of São Paulo and provides evidence that the right to health has been used to justify compulsory admission to treatment for people deemed to have a drug use disorder. These claims are filed against the state, mainly by families, who argue that the right to health of individuals is being violated. This model of litigation-oriented toward the satisfaction of a presumed health care need-does not engage sufficiently with individual informed consent and participation in the delivery of treatment, as a person-centered approach would demand. Further, the judgments reveal a low level of awareness among judges about the procedural rights of people ordered to undergo compulsory treatment, despite the large-scale implementation of the right to health via courts in Brazil. This problematic interpretation of the right to health, in the context of mounting punitive policies and ideology in Brazil, can be harmful to people who use drugs and bring about an environment of more limited patient safeguards.

Item Type: Article
Page Range: 159-169
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2022 12:55
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2023 09:02

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