The right to healthcare

The right to healthcare

Your rights under the UNCRC

UNCRC, Article 24: It’s your right to have the best health care possible, safe water to drink, nutritious food, a clean and safe environment, and information to help you stay well.

Your rights under Irish law

-Under the Health Act 1970 (as amended), it’s your right  to get certain aspects of health care for free as a child, such as free GP visits until you are 6 years old.

-Under the Health Act 1970 (as amended), it’s the right of all people who live in Ireland to have access to health services. Some people have the right to a medical card, if their income is below a certain figure. If you have a medical card, this means you don’t pay for GP or hospital visits.

-Under the Mental Health Act 2001, it’s your right to receive good quality mental health care; to be  informed about your treatment, to have your best interests  taken into account and to be treated with respect and dignity.

Did you know?

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines ‘health’ as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. Therefore, health is about more that the absence of illness and disease.
  • The Health Service Executive (HSE) is the agency responsible for delivering health and personal care social services in Ireland.
  • One in four children living in Ireland is obese or overweight. There is a plan called “A Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan 2016-2025. This ten step plan aims to increase the number of people with a healthy weight.
  • In 2016, children and young people were asked by the DCYA how they could be healthier. 8-12 year olds say it is important to have 8-10 hours sleep and not to play video games before going to bed. Young people said that unrealistic expectations from the media make it hard for young people to be healthy.
  • By January 2017, 363,694 of children under the age of 6 will have used free GP care. There is a proposal to make GP care free for children under 12, and then potentially under 18. However, doctors need to approve this first. (CRA Report Card 2017)
  • The number of children on  waiting lists for different treatments increased by 44.4% between 2011 and 2015, according to the Patient Treatment Register
  • In 2015, 2.5 times as many girls as boys presented at hospital emergency departments following self-harm, according to the National Self-Harm Registry Ireland.
  • In March 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that Ireland improve mental health services for children and young people, as well as facilities for treating eating disorders.

Hear your right – read by Caoimhe Ní Scolaí


As Gaelige

Tá sé de cheart agat na nithe seo a fháil: an cúram sláinte is fearr agus is féidir, uisce óil sábháilte, bia cothaitheach, timpeallacht ghlan agus shábháilte, agus eolas chun cuidiú leat fanacht slán.

Éist le do chearta – léite ag Luke Ó Murchú

What children and young people are saying

  • “Children need to go to school and children needs to go to doctors when they’re sick.” – Wonu (11)

    “Everybody should have a right to healthcare. Everybody has the right to … get the same treatment no matter who you are. They shouldn’t have to die from an illness that’s easily curable. It’s not just about curing diseases, it’s also about preventing them.”

  • Jigsaw, is a network of programmes designed by Headstrong to make sure every young person has somewhere to turn to and someone to talk to. We spoke to the Youth Advisory Panel of Jigsaw Kerry about their lives and their involvement with Jigsaw.

    You can hear more from children and young people on the free It’s Your Right iPad app!

  • Children and young people share their views on children’s rights to survive and develop

Find out more

  • Children in Hospital Ireland - Find out more about what hospital can be like from Children in Hospital Ireland
  • Stepping up- Stepping Up provides information for young people with long-term illnesses on moving to adult healthcare services
  • Jigsaw – Jigsaw works in the area of young people’s mental health. Find out more about Jigsaw’s activities and services.
  • Barnardos- Information for young people on taking care of your well-being is available from Barnardos
  • Safe Food- Take a look at the food pyramid and find out more about healthy eating from Safe Food.
  • Active School Flag – Find out more about the Active School Flag project

Explore More – Resource materials for Teachers & Educators

  • Healthpromotion.ie – Information and resources that can support work to encourage health-promoting behaviours among children and young people.
  • UNICEF Ireland – ‘Health’ and ‘Drugs & Alcohol’. Discussion points and images for young people to explore a number of health-related questions. In Picture Your Rights (2015), pp.3-4.
  • Citizens Information Board – ‘European Health Insurance Card’. Activity for young people on the entitlement to public health care when visiting an EU member State. In Rights and Entitlements for Young People (2010), pp.154-155.
  • Reach Out – Building Resiliency in Young People is a resource to support young people’s development of resiliency skills (2012).
  • Cycle Against Suicide – Information on how schools and students can get involved in the schools programmes run by Cycle Against Suicide.
  • World’s Largest Lesson – A range of resources to support children and young people of different ages to learn about and take action relating to the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, which include a goal to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being (Goal 3).
  • Concern – ‘Hurdles in Access to Treatment’. Activity and accompanying video for young people about access to treatment for people with HIV/Aids. In Cause and Effect: 4 Stories on HIV and Aids (2012) pp.46-49.