Patiño Linares v. Ministerio de Salud Pública y Asistencia Social

Acción de Amparo, Case No. 46-2002, 11 de septiembre de 2002.
Download Judgment: English Spanish
Country: El Salvador
Region: Americas
Year: 2002
Court: Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice [Sala de lo Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de Justicia]
Health Topics: Health care and health services, HIV/AIDS, Medicines
Human Rights: Right to health, Right to life
Tags: Access to drugs, Access to medicines, Access to treatment, AIDS, Antiretroviral, ARVs, Essential medicines, HIV, HIV positive, People living with HIV/AIDS, PLHIV

This case involved an HIV-positive plaintiff who claimed that the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance denied him an associated antiretroviral therapy.  The plaintiff filed an action for the protection of his fundamental human rights, claiming that the Ministry had violated his right to health and life, under articles 2 and 65 of the Constitution of El Salvador.

The Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance denied that the patient had been denied treatment and filed a certificate showing that the plaintiff was in fact receiving this therapy.

 

The Court held that the case should be dismissed as moot, as it was clear that the plaintiff had begun to receive the triple antiretroviral treatment before the Court issued its judgment.  However, the Court specifically noted that the denial of medical treatment to a person, when such treatment caused the person to live an undignified life or even to suffer death, constituted a patent violation of the right to health and the right to life protected by the Constitution. The Court further noted that the State had a duty to provide the constitutionally appropriate treatment, which did not necessarily mean that antiretroviral therapy would always be the appropriate treatment.

The Court held that, as the plaintiff was receiving the treatment, and the effects of the Ministry’s action had ceased, the case should be dismissed as moot because the Court could not judge the case on the merits of the matter.  However, the Court noted that this decision should in no way be construed as an obstacle to the plaintiff’s continued receipt of treatment, while such treatment was suitable.

 “(…) if a person who must receive treatment in a certain way is denied the respective treatment, and this causes an undignified life and even death, [said person] is being subject to a frontal violation of the right to health protected by the Constitution and, further, life (…).”  Section III.

"(...) si a una persona a quien deba atenderse de una forma determinada no se le presta la atención correspondiente, con lo cual se genere una vida indigna y hasta la muerte, se estaría violentando frontalmente el derecho a la salud tutelada por la Constitución y aún más, la vida (...)". Sección III.

 

“(…) said obligation [to protect the right to health] is general in the Constitution, in the sense that the tools for protection must be provided, that is, today, a mechanism may exist that is effective and ideal and another tomorrow; thus, there is always an obligation to renew, change or create [the mechanisms] that are constitutionally appropriate.  In this case, these are associate antiretroviral therapy or triple therapy – cocktail- which shall not be an impediment for the fact that another therapy may be required (…).”  Section III.

"(...) tal obligación en la Constitución es general en el sentido que se -deben procurar- las herramientas de protección, esto es, que hoy un mecanismo puede ser el eficaz e idóneo y mañana otro, existiendo por lo tanto siempre obligación de renovar, cambiar o crear los que así se estime conveniente constitucionalmente. En este caso se trata de una terapia antirretroviral asociada o triple terapia -coctel- lo cual no será óbice para que ulteriormente pueda ser otra la indicada (...)". Sección III.

 

For this reason, this resolution, which constitutes an interlocution that puts an end to this case of amparo, … does not allow judging on the merits of the matter discussed, must be evaluated from a strictly procedural perspective and not as an impediment for the defendant authority to continue providing triple therapy or associated antiretroviral therapy indefinitely to Mr. Manuel Alexander Patiño Linares, while it is suitable.” Section III.

“Por tal razón, la presente resolución que se constituye en una interlocutoria que pone fin al presente proceso de amparo, que a su vez no permite enjuiciar el fondo de lo discutido, debe evaluarse desde el punto de vista estrictamente procesal y no como obstáculo para que la autoridad demandada, continúe proporcionando indefinidamente, mientras sea la idónea, la triple terapia o terapia antirretroviral asociada al señor Manuel Alexander Patiño Linares.” Sección III.

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