National health plan must reflect human rights principles – SERAP

Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project (SERAP) has described the proposed National Strategic Health Development Plan by the Minister of Health, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin “ as overdue” and advised that “given the lack of access to quality health care for million of Nigerians, especially women and children, such plan must integrate and mainstream the internationally recognized human right to the highest attainable standard of health if it is to achieve its objectives.”


The minister has recently inaugurated a Technical Working Group (TWG) to develop ‘the Zero-Draft of the National Strategic Health Development Framework (NSHDP).’ The minister has also proposed a meeting with the commissioners of health between the 27 and 28 of April to look specifically at the draft NSHDP framework.


In an open letter to Professor Osotimehin dated 20 April 2009, and signed by SERAP’s Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization asked the minister to ensure that “the process gives sufficient attention to all the vulnerable or marginalized groups in the country. The honourable minister should also ensure the full participation of civil society and the private sector in the process.”


The organization also recommended that:

• The National Strategic Health Development Framework (NSHDP) should include strategies to promote access to clean water, health care, adequate nutrition and sanitation without discrimination;


• The NSHDP should commit government to invest in strong health systems. It should contain explicit provisions committing the government to increase funding of health systems through predictable, sustained and long-term investments


• The NSHDP should incorporate principles that will ensure that health care decisions are made accountably and with public participation;


• The NSHDP should explicitly abolish user fees for primary health care, and to eliminate financial barriers to access to healthcare;


• The NSHDP should incorporate strategies to confront the crisis of human resources: increase training, ensure that mid-level cadres of health workers are expanded and empowered, provide adequate and fair compensation for all health workers, and incorporate measures to stem the exodus of scarce health workers from the public sector.


• The NSHDP should commit the government to initiate a bill to establish or reforms laws, regulations and policies to strengthen health systems, improve women’s health, and establish tolerance and respect for women’s decisions in all matters pertaining to their health and well-being;


• The NSHDP should include strategies to enhance HIV/AIDS programs and policies


• The NSHDP should recognize the critical importance of health and empowerment, and of health systems, to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs);


• The NSHDP should commit the government to: ensure immunization against the major infectious diseases; develop or review measures to prevent, treat and control epidemic and endemic diseases; ensure access to essential medicines, as defined by WHO’s Action Programme on Essential Medicines; ensure reproductive, maternal (pre-natal and post-natal) and child health care; establish essential primary health care; ensure access to health facilities without discrimination, especially for the poor, and otherwise vulnerable and disadvantaged groups; ensure the freedom of the citizens from starvation and malnutrition; and access to basic shelter, housing and sanitation;


• The NSHDP should commit the government to provide health education and access to information about the main health problems in the community, including methods of prevention and control; and appropriate training for medical and other health professionals, including education in health and human rights

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