After a recent 10-day visit across the country, UN Special Rapporteur on health rights Tlaleng Mofokeng said she believes Costa Rica can overcome challenges to achieve truly universal healthcare.
“Both the people and the authorities display a sense of pride and longing for an operative public health service. The time is ripe to ascertain that healthcare for all truly means all,” Mofokeng asserted, sharing her observations.
Mofokeng stressed that the right to health should encompass underlying determinants, not just healthcare access. She called for it to be fully recognized in Costa Rica’s constitution.
The expert expressed concerns about Costa Rica’s criminalization of abortion, stating it violates human rights standards and medical protocols. Mofokeng urged the country to decriminalize abortion, saying such laws are discriminatory.
“Criminal and legal restrictions on abortion restrict autonomy and interfere with the patient-doctor relationship, impacting access to services and information. This is gender discrimination,” she highlighted.
Mofokeng recommended Costa Rica impose a moratorium on enforcing abortion laws. She also praised public officials for successful COVID-19 strategies but urged continued stakeholder involvement in health policymaking.
Throughout her visit, Mofokeng met with government, civil society, healthcare professionals and indigenous groups. She highlighted racism and xenophobia as serious issues after hearing “deeply personal accounts” of discrimination from marginalized communities. Mofokeng said this limits health rights and enables systemic violence.
Mofokeng will present a comprehensive report with recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2024.
Realizing the right to health for all in Costa Rica requires addressing underlying determinants and removing discriminatory laws, according to the UN expert. Costa Rica must also tackle barriers that prevent marginalized groups from accessing quality, ethical healthcare.
Mofokeng believes the country can establish universal healthcare. But this requires fully recognizing the comprehensive right to health in law and policy, not just access. Costa Rica has made progress but must redouble efforts to ensure no one is left behind