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A new report by The Lancet-O’Neill-Georgetown University Commission on Global Health and the Law shows how law can fulfill the global pledge of the human right to health, while “leaving no one behind.” I call this “global health with justice.” We need both health and justice. By global health, I mean ever increasing indicators of good health and increased longevity in all countries around the world. By justice I mean that the global “good” of health must be fairly distributed both within and among countries. The Lancet Commission report offers a comprehensive roadmap towards realizing the law’s power to make us healthier and safer, describing how principles – like fairness, participation, and wielding evidence – can shape policies throughout government. It also vividly illustrates how good governance and the rule of law can advance both health and justice.

We tend to think of science and medicine as the major drivers of good health. And, of course, these disciplines are vital to develop, implement, and improve healthcare, including pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and medical supplies. Yet, professional medical and nursing services make only a relatively small contribution to population health. More important are population-based interventions that modify core risks to health, such as diet, smoking, alcohol, and physical activity. These interventions are not the product of medicine or healthcare systems. Rather they are driven by law. In other words, what is the wonder drug that could save millions of lives? It is the law, enacted on the floors of national legislatures.

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The Journal of Global Health Science, Vol. 1, No. 1.