Older Persons and the Right to Health in the Nordics during COVID-19

Katharina Ó Cathaoir, Henriette Sinding Aasen, Hrefna D. Gunnarsdóttir, Kaisa-Maria Kimmel, Mirva Lohiniva-Kerkelä, Ida Gundersby Rognlien, Lotta Vahlne Westerhäll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


We reflect on the extent to which Nordic countries have safeguarded the right to health of older persons during the pandemic in 2020. All Nordic states have ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and thereby committed to recognising the right to health. We use the AAAQ framework developed by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to draw attention to aspects of the respective states’ responses. The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on the health of older persons, from the direct effects of the virus, such as illness and death, to indirect impacts, like isolation and loneliness. We find that Nordic states have at times failed to prioritise the full realisation of the core obligations of the right to health for older persons, namely, non-discrimination and provision of essential healthcare. Resource constraints cannot justify discrimination or failure to respect autonomy, integrity and human dignity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-444
Number of pages28
JournalEuropean Journal of Health Law
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2021
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • COVID-19 pandemia
  • older people
  • Nordic countries
  • health
  • rights
  • Human rights
  • Covid-19
  • Health law
  • Older persons
  • Nordic law
  • Right to health

Field of science

  • Law


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