Include right to health in Constitution

Thursday October 8 2015

By Moses Talibita

Today marks 20 years of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda as amended. The Constitution’s commencement date was October 8, 1995. The 1995 constitutional order has seen reforms in politics, national language, natural resources and governance than other rights amendments.
Government called out late last year on all public conscious citizens to propose constitutional amendments. Public hearings were conducted at Parliament and at various up-country regions. The committee’s report elected to concentrate on political issues and was heard in political circles that other issues are pending the 10th Parliament. It is at this point that I vote to vouch for the inclusion of the right to health in our Constitution.

Health rights violations happen left right and centre in Ugandan health facilities, private or public and the Constitution does not explicitly guarantee health rights to citizens. Whereas judicial appeal of health rights happened in Brazil and in the recent Supreme Court judgment of Obamacare in United States of America. Judicial appeal is an alternative pathway for accessing healthcare, increasingly understood as access to medicines of all kinds. Tracking the health outcomes and budgetary impacts of right-to-health court cases could help inform adequate treatment policy and evaluate trends in access.

The advantages for constitutionalising entitlements to health goods and services for all citizens not only border on sponsoring to amplify access, utilisation and demand; it leads to better health outcomes, wellbeing, to economically viable citizens that contribute to the unforeseeable national economic development.
A right to health that creates entitlements that are judicial rallies government and individual health practitioners to wisely provide healthcare. Government shall ensure that health workers’ welfare allows them to practice their profession as it shall provide the tools of work.

It is incumbent on government to expedite discussions on the national health insurance schemes, where citizens shall finance the ultimate implementation of the right to health, besides citizens contribute already to their health.
As Uganda celebrates the promulgation of the Constitutional, more effort is needed to fully eradicate a wide range of diseases and address many different persistent and emerging health issues. Policy, law and practise need to change for the application of the right to health.
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