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Public health law and the legal basis of public health

Gesundheitsrecht und die Rechtsgrundlage öffentlicher Gesundheit
[journal article]

Koyuncu, Adem; Kirch, Wilhelm

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Abstract Subjects and methods: This article analyzes the scope of the rules that form the legal field Public Health Law and examines its characteristics. It further reviews the relationship between law and public health practice and analyzes the legal basis of public health. The article also examines the roles of the legal actors in public health practice and their means. Results: Law grants the necessary powers to the states and governments, and law also distributes these powers among the state institutions. Law and Public health build an important relationship in the interest of the population’s health. Based on law and on legal authorization, states establish and fund public health agencies and bestow them with powers vis-à-vis citizens to pursue public health goals. A number of legal fields can be found that aim to protect and promote the public's health. The entirety of these legal fields build the superordinate field "Public Health Law." Public health law can be defined as the sum of all legal rules that directly or indirectly aim to safeguard or promote the population's health. These rules may result from statutory law, administrative regulations and acts, customary law and common law. Conclusions: Law is essential for the infrastructure and functioning of public health. The legal basis of public health is rooted in the basic rights of the people to health, safety and life. Based on these basic rights, the people and the population they form have the right to self-defense. In states, people mandate the state and the state powers to safeguard and promote their health. Therefore, the population’s basic right to health, safety and life, and their corresponding right to self-defense are the basis and justification for the general existence of public health activities of states. Public health is a duty of the state vis-à-vis the people from whom all state powers derive.
Keywords Federal Republic of Germany; United States of America; public health care delivery system; health law; health policy; government; international organization; administration; law; non-governmental organization; non-profit-organization; WHO; environment; UNO; social actor; globalization; public health
Classification Health Policy; Law
Method applied research; descriptive study
Free Keywords Public health law; Law; Legal basis of public health; Legal regulation
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
Page/Pages p. 429-436
Journal Journal of Public Health, 18 (2010) 5
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)