Article 43 of the Constitution of Kenya enshrines people’s economic and social rights. One of those rights is the right to “the highest attainable standards of health, which includes the right to healthcare services, including reproductive healthcare services. “
Further, the Kenyan Constitution provides that a person should not be denied emergency medical treatment. Therefore, it is wrong when you are not attended because you lack financial resources to pay for medical services at any health facility.
It is also important for you to understand that you have a right to be protected against medical treatment without consent.
Underlying determinant of health
The right to health in Kenya is not a stand alone issue. There are many underlying determinants. For you to enjoy your health, you need to have access to safe and portable water, safe food, adequate sanitation, adequate housing, proper nutrition among others.
You have a right to accurate health related education as well as information which includes sexual and reproductive health.
Finally, the right to health in Kenya demands that the members of the public should be involved in the decision-making processes at the community, national, regional and international levels.
The right to health in Kenya is characterized by the following elements:
- Availability of adequate health facilities as well as goods and services in sufficient quantities; This means that there should be enough trained health workers, essential drugs and medicine;
- Physical and economic accessibility of healthcare services;
- Health services must be culturally appropriate, respect medical ethics and gender-sensitive in order to be accepted;
- Healthcare services much be scientifically and medically appropriate with good quality through adequate sanitation, skilled medical staff and existence of safe and portable water within the health facilities;
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health has pointed out that legal restrictions on access to contraceptives for unmarried people leads to spread of sexually transmitted diseases and increase in unwanted pregnancies. The Rapporteur adds that states should avoid using legal and criminal restrictions in regulating sexual and reproductive health. The rational is that this may led to violations of health rights and in most cases these interventions have failed to work.
If we promote health rights for everyone, we will see reduced cases of women and girls dying at child birth out of preventable causes. This is mostly due to failure of these women and girls to access these lifesaving services as a result of economic and social factors or due to failed healthcare systems.