High Level Continental Seminar On The Right To Health And Social Protection In Africa - Key Conclusions and Recommendations


WHEREAS 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 jointly held a high-level continental seminar on the Right to Health and Social Protection in Africa, which main objective was:

To raise awareness and remind States Parties to the African Charter on and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter) of their obligations under the Charter, the Maputo Protocol and other relevant instruments towards the provision of adequate and affordable health care and social protection services, and to commit to give priority to health care and social protection by undertaking concrete legislative and other measures including reforms of their health sectors.

WHEREAS the specific objectives were to:

i. Understand the obligations of States Parties under the African Charter, the Maputo Protocol and other relevant instruments in respect of the right to health care and health services and social protection;

ii. Identify the gaps in the health care systems and social protection sector in AU Member States as well as at regional and continental levels;

iii. Raise awareness on/address the issue of deficient health care systems and insufficient social protection coverage/implementation;

iv. Collect data on quality of health and social services for documentation and research purposes;

v. Share best practices regarding health care systems and social protection in States Parties;

vi. Formulate key recommendations to address the issues specific to the African context in this regard for implementation by the various stakeholders, namely States Parties, NHRIs, NGOs and other partners; and

vii. Raise awareness on the Draft Protocol on the Rights of Citizens to Social Protection and Social Security;

WHEREAS the participants in the Seminar comprising Members of the Commission, Expert members of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 11 delegates from 9 States Parties to the African Charter, representing the East, West, Central, South and Northern Africa; 1 Parliamentarian, representatives from 5 National Human Rights Institutions, 3 Academicians, representatives from 12 NGOs, and 4 local participants from international organizations based in Dakar, Senegal;

WHEREAS presentations were made on various thematic issues related to the right to health and social protection, followed by fruitful exchanges in which participants expressed their concerns, shared experiences, challenges and best practices for effective promotion and protection of these rights in Africa;


NOW THEREFORE, make the following recommendations to the following stakeholders:

  • To State Parties

1. Domesticate the regional and international instruments on the right to health and social protection ratified;

2. Mobilize resources to invest in the public health sectors, target disadvantaged groups in provision of medical services thus ending inequalities and reducing out-of-pocket expenditures by households especially poor and disadvantaged households;

3. Empower civil society organizations 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;

4. Create the enabling environment for emerging local pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment producers to grow and be efficient;

5. Enact laws that encourage local investment in the health and social protection sectors; and mobilize more budgetary resources through among other measures, innovative and effective tax payment schemes;

6. Root out corruption which impedes the delivery of efficient healthcare and social services and avoid heavy dependence on imported medical supplies/equipment by creating / setting up effective national, regional and continental mechanisms to timeously address health emergencies; 

7. Utilize existing/available partnerships with international organisations including UNAIDS to invest in health and social protection sustainably;

8. Demonstrate enough political will to fulfil their obligation to protect health and social rights of their citizens in consonance with the human rights treaties they are parties to;

9. Reduce out of pocket expenditure in the health by prioritizing the public primary health care system;

10. Regulate activities of non-State actors / private actors that provide socio economic related services;

11. Adopt comprehensive, inclusive and human rights based social protection laws in line with international standards; to strengthen the legislative framework of social protection and its implementation nationally;

12. Ensure effective implementation of Social Protection policies and strategies by instituting a number of accompanying measures that will support and reinforce the priority actions undertaken; including technical capacity building; strengthening of analytical databases, communication and social mobilization measures, and partnerships around social protection to promote coordination of approaches and effectiveness of programmes;

13. Develop internal financial mechanisms to fund health and social protection projects and allot sufficient budget for them, in order to make healthcare free, especially for vulnerable people such as pregnant women, children, the elderly, migrants and internally displaced people;

14. Consider establishing units that offer traditional medicine in the hospitals and having officialized indigenous solutions, e.g. herbal medicines;

15. Provide access to adequate and timely information on health and social protection to the general populace;

16. Enact legislation that will give effect to the Maputo Protocol;

17. Establish gender desk for reporting cases of Violence against women and access to justice, and train Police should be specifically trained to handle the gender-based violence;

18. Involve youths in the discussions, campaigns and awareness raising activities against violence and injustice; to ensure wider coverage and publicity of these violations;

19. African parents should get involved teaching their children how to conduct themselves, and in preparing training materials for youth, this is necessary for reducing gender-based violence.

20. States to regularly submit to the Commission reports on implementation of the Maputo Protocol and AU should consider setting aside budgets to support needy States to prepare and present their report;


  • To the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

1. Consider using local media in the countries as a possible way to sensitize States to submit their periodic reports pursuant to Article 62 of the Charter;

2. Collaborate with social media within the rules/ as much as the au rules/policies allow;

3. Conduct a holistic study on COVID- 19, including best practices on health, and make recommendations to states through developing general comments that would guide States on the minimum standards for protecting the rights of its citizens;


  • To NHRIs

1. Play an advisory role to States in policy development and establishing robust legal framework for the realization of the right to health and social protection;

2.  Play a lead role in assessing the level of States compliance and implementation of ratified instruments;

3. Ensure NHRIs have a quasi-judicial mandate to enable them handle and provide redress to complaints of human rights violations.


  • To CSOs

1. Tap resources for healthcare and social protection from international partners, and where possible, the government; and be transparent in management of resources received from partners;

2. Tackle the attendant challenge of mutual suspicion between the Governments and NGOs that could impede the efforts of the NGOs in the provision of social protection services in the communities;

3. Build the capacity of the media/journalists to report on health and social protection issues;

4. Set up journalism networks that report on matters relating to health and social protection;


Done in Dakar, Senegal, on 10 December 2021.