By  Gabriel Olwale

The Centre for Social Justice, CSJ, Nigeria with the support from the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement programme of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID-SCALE) has held an inception and strategy meeting on the implementation of the project titled “Improving the Realisation of the Right to Health in Nigeria”.

The project will be implemented in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and six focal states of Sokoto, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Imo, Ekiti and Rivers. The project’s goal is to contribute to improvements in the realization of the right to health in Nigeria through enhancing respect for extant laws and policies, reforming laws and policies as well as mainstreaming transparency and accountability in public health sector expenditure.

The programme will be implemented through four critical objectives for action viz: (a) Improve legal and governance frameworks of the health sector through legislative and implementation advocacy; (b) Enhance stakeholder participation to improve transparency and accountability in health budgeting; and (c) Increase awareness and sensitisation of rights and duties on the right to health and (d) Build the capacity of cluster members and critical civil society stakeholders to effectively intervene for the improvement of the right to health.

The Lead Director of the Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere said “the right to health demands finance and other resources for its implementation and realisation. The benchmark is the Abuja Declaration, being a commitment of African Heads of State and Government to dedicate at least 15% of their annual budgets to health expenditure.”

He said “Nigeria had not met the benchmark in any of the budgets since 2010- 2021. The highest percentage of 6.13% was in the year 2012, followed by 5.78% in 2015 and 5.75% in 2011 while the least percentage of 3.66% was recorded in 2020. However, the highest variance between the 15% benchmark and the appropriated sum was recorded in the year 2021 in the sum of N1.491 trillion, followed by N1.2 trillion and N1.011 trillion in 2020 and 2018.”

“These allocations depart from the principle of progressive realization of the right to health which is a forward ever, backward never principle. The allocations show an undulating framework instead of marginal increases as a society and population growth and as resources increase,” The programme manager of the USAID-SCALE Improving the Realization of the Right to Health in Nigeria project, Martins EKE said.

Right to Health is the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Right to health extends to ensuring clean water, sanitation, food, nutrition and through a comprehensive system of healthcare.

The right to health is accorded recognition by several international treaties to most of which Nigeria is a party. The most important of these treaties are the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination (CERD), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Nigeria is also a party to two health-related civil and political rights treaties, namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Regionally, the Right to Health is guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. Nationally, it is guaranteed under Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the National Health Insurance Scheme Act (1999) and the National Health Act, 2014.

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