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Human Rights and the Right to Health


Human Rights and the Right to Health Commissioner Winfred Lichuma Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Human Rights Legal guarantees that protect individuals. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Human Rights and the Right to Health

Human Rights and the Right to Health
  • Commissioner Winfred Lichuma
  • Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

Human Rights
  • Legal guarantees that protect individuals.
  • Entitlements
  • Freedoms
  • They are birthrights of every individual
  • They are enshrined in a set of internationally
    agreed legal and moral standards that get
    translated in domestic laws i.e. constitutions
  • Rights are universal, inalienable, indivisible
    and they come with duties and responsibilities.
  • States have the responsibility or duty to
    respect, protect and fulfil human rights

Characteristics of Human Rights They are
  • Universal.
  • Focus on inherent dignity and equal worth of all
    human beings.
  • Indivisible and interdependent.
  • Cannot be waived or taken away
  • Protect individual and to some other extend

Some Rights Guaranteed
  • Rights are guaranteed to all human beings under
    international treaties without any discrimination
    on grounds of sex, race, language, political or
    other opinion, national or social origin etc.
  • Right to life, freedom from slavery, equal
    protection of the law , right to nationality
  • Right to the highest attainable standards of
    health, right to food, water, food, clean
    environment etc.

Hierarchy of Rights
  • All rights are equally important
  • Rights are indivisible and interdependent.
  • No human being is inferior to any other.
  • Economic, social and Cultural rights must be
    respected, protected and realized on equal
    footing with civil and political rights.
  • Efforts should be made to realize all rights
    together allowing for prioritization as necessary
    in accordance with human rights principles.

Human Rights Obligations
  • To respect-Not to interfere with their enjoyment.
  • To protect-to take steps to ensure 3rd parties do
    not interfere with their enjoyment.
  • To fulfil-to take steps to progressively to
    realize the right in question.

Link between Health and Human Rights
  • Violations or lack of attention to human rights
    can have serious health consequences.
  • Health policies and programmes can promote or
    violate human rights in the ways they are
    designed and implemented.
  • Taking steps to respect, protect and fulfil human
    rights can reduce vulnerability and the impact of
    ill health.

The Right to Health
  • It requires governments and public authorities to
    put in place policies and action plans which will
    lead to available and accessible health care for
    all in the shortest possible time.
  • Most authoritative interpretation of the right
    to health is outlined in article 12 of the ICESCR
    and its General Comment No. 14.

General Comment 14 Criteria to evaluate the
Right to health
  • Availability-functioning public health and health
    and health-care facilities, goods and services as
    well as programmes have to be available in
    sufficient quantity.
  • Accessibility- services must be accessible to
    everyone without discrimination.
  • Acceptability-All health services and goods must
    respect medical ethics and be sensitive to
    gender. It must respect confidentiality.
  • Quality-Health facilities, goods and services
    must be scientifically and medically appropriate
    and of good quality.

Principle of Freedom from discrimination and
  • Targets the vulnerable and marginalized in
  • Overt or implicit discrimination violates the
    fundamental human rights principles and always
    lies at the root of poor health status.
  • Discrimination manifests itself in a complex
    variety ways for example violence against women.
  • Preferential treatment in reasonable
    circumstances does not amount to discrimination.
  • Public health practices are heavily burdened by
    the problem of inadvertent discrimination-mostly
    relying on assumptions.

Right to Health in the context of Kenya.
  • Kenya has ratified various international and
    regional instruments that provide the right to
    health and non discrimination. i.e . ICCPR,
    ICESCR, CRC, CEDAW, ICERD, and the African
    Charter among others.
  • Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are not
    enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya.
  • The Social determinants of health that are the
    current focus of WHO are constraining factors in
    Kenyas attempts to realize the right to health
    such as the high poverty levels and high rates of

Kenyan context cont
  • The right to health has suffered from chronic
    under-investment. Health system has been
    undermined and weakened and Kenya needs concerted
    measures to establish effective and inclusive
    health systems accessible to all.
  • Kenya has to strife to keep to the health related
    goals it has committed itself to i.e. MDGs,
    UNGASS for children and HIV and AIDS, etc.
  • The GOK has attempted to operationalize the
    commitments through various policies geared
    towards achieving broad based sustainable
    improvement in the welfare of Kenya. i.e.
    National Poverty Eradication Plan, the PRSP and
    the Vision 2030 e.t.c.

Emerging challenges
  • Poverty and Hunger.
  • Maternal death.
  • Child mortality.
  • Combating HIV and AIDS, Malaria and other
  • Environmental issues.
  • Water and sanitation.

  • Most laws and policies are outdated and require
  • The waiver of maternity fees is a positive move.
  • The government and other agencies should jointly
    work towards fulfilment of the right to health.
  • The rights-based approach that will insist on
    participatory approach and empowerment will be
    the recommended model.
  • We need to convince the 10th parliament that we
    must include ESCR into the constitution during
    the proposed review of the constitution.