The Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) jointly held a Second High-Level Continental Seminar on the Right to Health and Social Protection in Africa, from 27 to 29 June 2022, in Windhoek, Namibia.
The main objective of the Seminar was to raise awareness and remind States Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter) of their obligations under the African Charter, the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) and other relevant instruments towards the provision of adequate and affordable health care and social protection services, and to commit to giving priority to health care and social protection by undertaking concrete legislative and other measures including reforms of their health sectors.
Recalling the specific objectives of the Seminar was to:
i. Understand the obligations of States Parties under the African Charter, the Maputo Protocol and other relevant instruments regarding the right to health and health services and social protection;
ii. Identify the gaps in the health care systems and social protection sector in the African Union (AU) Member States and at regional and continental levels;
iii. Raise awareness on/address deficient health care systems and insufficient social protection coverage/implementation;
iv. Collect data on the quality of health and social services for documentation and research purposes;
v. Share best practices regarding healthcare systems and social protection in States Parties;
vi. Formulate key recommendations to address the issues specific to the African context for implementation by the various stakeholders, namely States Parties, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), Intergovernmental/International OrganizationsNon-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and other partners and stakeholders; and
vii. Raise awareness of the
Draft Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Citizens to Social Protection and Social Security;
The participants in the Seminar comprised Members of the Commission, Expert Members of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, nine delegates from 3 States Parties to the African Charter representing Southern Africa, representatives from 3 National Human Rights Institutions, representatives from 3 Intergovernmental/International organizations; and 7 representatives from NGOs,otherexperts, partners and stakeholders;
Bearing in mind, presentations were made on various thematic issues related to the right to health and social protection for all, including a focus on women, followed by fruitful exchanges in which participants expressed their concerns, identified challenges, shared experiences and best practicesfor the effective promotion and protection of these rights in Africa;
Noting that the African continent has several structural, political, economic, environmental and social-cultural vulnerabilities that negatively affect the implementation of the right to health and social protection;
Considering that the Covid-19 Pandemic has confirmed the importance and the necessity of implementing the rights to health and social protection for all;
NOW, THEREFORE, make the following recommendationsto stakeholders:
A. To State Parties to the African Charter
State parties should:
1. Ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Citizens to Social Protection and Social Security;
2. Ratify the Maputo Protocol for States that have not yet done so;
3. Demonstrate political will to fulfil their obligation to protect the health and social rights of their citizens in accordance with the human rights treaties they are parties to;
4. Ratify, domesticate and implement the regional and international instruments on the right to health and social protection;
5. Enactor amend laws that encourage domestic investmentin the health and social protection sectors;
6. Regulate activities of non-State actors / private actors that provide health and socio-economic related services;
7. Adopt comprehensive, human rights-based social protection laws in line with international standards;
8. Regularly submit to the Commission reports on implementation of the rights to health and social protection;
9. Develop policies that prioritise public health and social protection services.
National Policies, Actors and Partnerships
10. Adopt human rights-based national policies and laws for the promotion and protection of the right to health and social protection in a non-discriminatory manner;
11. Ensure effective implementation of Social Protection policies and strategies and promote coordination of approaches and effectiveness of programmes;
12. Empower CSOs to play their roles in the communities through partnerships between the Government and the civil society to attend to the poor and those who cannot easily access good health care services;
13. Provide special attention to women and other vulnerable groups, gender equality and equity in the implementation of the right to health and social protection;
14. Ensure strengthening of public health services since they are the first point of call for vulnerable people, including women;
15. Create the enabling environment foremerging local pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment producers to grow and be efficient;
16. Avoid heavy dependence on imported medical supplies/equipment by creating/setting up effective national, regional and continental mechanisms to address health emergencies timeously;
17. Use existing/availablepartnershipswith international organizations, including UN agencies such as WHO and UNAIDS, to invest in health and social protection sustainably;
18. Consider establishing units that offer traditional medicine in the hospitals and having officialized indigenous solutions, e.g. herbal medicines etc;
19. Provide access to adequate and timely factual information on health and social protection to the general populace;
20. Establish a gender desk for reporting cases of violence against women and access to justice, and especially train the Police to handle gender-based violence matters;
21. Involve parents, guardians, youths and children in the discussions, campaigns and awareness-raising activities against gender-based violence and injustice; to ensure more comprehensive coverage and publicity of these violations;
22. Establish effective and efficient remedies to strengthen the enforcement and the respect of the rights to health and social protection;
23. Ensure the rights to health and social protection through implementing related policies, such as conflict prevention, poverty eradication and adopting a human rights-based socio-economic development model; and
24. Build the capacity of the media/journalists to report on health and social protection issues;
25. Mobilizeagile and efficient resources to invest in the public health sector, and target disadvantaged groups in the provision of health services, thus ending inequalities and reducing out-of-pocket expenditures by households, impoverished and underprivileged households;
26. Work towards implementing the Abuja Declaration, calling on African states to reserve 15% of their overall expenditure for the health sector;
27. Secure adequate resources to implement comprehensive social protection programs that are accessible to all people in need;
28. Mobilize more agile and efficient budgetary resources through innovative and efficient tax payment systems, including effective corporate taxation and progressive taxation;
29. Facilitate, encourage and generalize the contracting of accessible and affordable medical and social insurance by citizens;
30. Root out corruption and combat illicit financial flows which impede the delivery of efficient healthcare and social protection services; and
31. Develop internal financial mechanisms to fund health and social protection programmes and allot sufficient budget for free healthcare, especially for vulnerable people such as pregnant women, children, the elderly, refugees, migrants and internally displaced people.
B. African Commission
The African Commission should:
1. Promote the ratification of theProtocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Right of Citizens to Social Protection and Social Security;
2. Use the media to sensitize states to submit their periodic reports pursuant to Article 62 of the Charter and Article 26 of the Maputo Protocol; Use best practices and lessons learnt from past pandemic responses in Africa to inform COVID-19 and post Covid-19 recovery measures;
3. Ensure the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Right of Citizens to Social Protection and Social Securityafter its ratification and entry into force, in accordance with Article 28 of the Protocol;
4. Adopt guidelines on the implementation of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Right of Citizens to Social Protection and Social Security; and
5. Continue its awareness-raising activities on implementing Africa's the right to health and social protection.
1. Ensure effective advocacy with States for the implementation of the rights to health and social protection, in particular through the allocation of adequate resources;
2. Play an advisory role to States in policy development and establish a robust legal framework for the realization of the right to health and social protection;
3. Play a lead role in monitoring and assessing the level of States compliance and implementation of ratified instruments;
4. Ensure NHRIs have a quasi-judicial mandate to enable them to investigate violations, handle and provide redress to complaints of human rights violations; and
5. Advocate for integrating gender equality in the implementation of the right to health, social protection and social security.
D. NGOs and/or, CSOs
NGOs and/or CSOs should:
1. Advocate with and establish partnerships with Governments for the implementation of the right to health and social protection;
2. Advocate for the integration of gender equality in the implementation of the right to health and social protection;
3. Set up journalism networks that report on matters relating to health and social protection;
4. Contribute to efforts of awareness raising and combatting corruption in the implementation framework of the right to health and social protection;
5. Provide evaluations and assessments on the implementation of the rights to health and social protection from the perspective of civil society.
6. Engage in research and monitoring of the implementation of the rights to health and social protection;
7. Provide alternative reports to regional human rights mechanisms regarding the implementation of the rights to health and social protection.
Done in Windhoek, Namibia, on 29 June 2022.