Right to Health - South Africa

Participation in Hearing on the Right to Health, South Africa
In June 2007, Rights and Humanity was invited by the South African Human Rights Commission to participate in public hearings on the right to access to health care services. The enquiry took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. The right to access to health care is one of the rights protected in the South African Constitution to which Rights and Humanity contributed.

The public hearing was attended by the Minister of health of showing how seriously the government viewed the hearings. The public had been invited to make written submissions to the SAHRC and key stakeholders were invited to make oral submissions over three days. These revealed significant problems in the public health sector and obstacles faced in accessing health by poor and vulnerable people.

Our President, Ms Julia Häusermann was the only invited international participant. She was unexpectedly invited to speak at the end of the hearing to give her opinion. She acknowledged the progress made since the overthrow of apartheid and racial divisions of the past, but considered that priority should now be to ensuring equality of access to everyone, including poor people and those suffering marginalisation -e.g. disabled people and those with mental ill health.

Ms Häusermann reminded the SAHRC that the international obligation to overcome discrimination was an immediate obligation, rather than one that could be realised progressively. She stressed the importance of viewing the right to access to health care services within the wider remit of the socioeconomic determinates of health and stressed the urgency of overcoming discrimination against women which is a major cause of preventable morbidity and mortality.


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