• Francis Obonyo
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IS THE RIGHT TO HEALTH AVAILABLE TO ALL THE CITIZENS?

Many instruments have defined human Rights. However, Black’s Law Dictionary offers a helpful definition of human rights as; ”the freedoms, immunities, and benefits that, according to modern values (esp. at an international level), all human beings should be able to claim as a matter of right in the society in which they live. This, in itself, means that the rights need not be written down.

In Uganda, the rights have been incorporated in chapter four of the 1995 Constitution. Although the right to health is not expressly provided in this chapter, it is embedded in the National Objective Principles of State Policy which guides the state.  Human rights are among other tenets inherent. Therefore, it should be enjoyed regardless of whether it is provided for on paper or not. This means that these rights are available to an individual by the mere fact they were born.

The government has continually developed public hospitals, health centres, referral hospitals and made them available for public use. The question that has always been on citizens’ minds is why the government officials are fond of seeking medical treatment outside Uganda. Why are the services improved for the benefit of everyone? We have a new twist to this; following the escalated increase of Covid-19 cases in the community, on the 26th August 2020, Ministry of Health closed off the Covid-19 testing laboratory at Mulago referral hospital to the public. Only VIPs will be allowed access to Mulago’s sample collection point to limit the number of people who enter and leave hospital premises.

In light of Article 21 and 26 of the 1995 Constitution, which provide for equality and non-discrimination, how appropriate is this directive? Will the congestion be controlled in the other hospitals? The assumption is that now that the testing centre has been demarcated as one for the VIP areas, it is going to be better maintained.

Whereas the ministry is trying, by all means, to make sure that there is a limited spread of the virus, it is crucial to treat all the citizens equally. The services have to be available, accessible, and affordable to all.