Right to Health


  1. Introduction:

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 thematic area is comprised of Four (4) dedicated Staff comprising Fidelia Osemeata Oroh (Head), Fatima Abubakar Shamaki and Valerie Duruh, forming a thematic team charged with the responsibility of promoting, protecting and enforcing the right to health as safeguarded by the various human instruments. The team is also charged with the responsibility of liaising and cooperating with local and international organizations on right to health with the purpose of advancing the promotion and protection of same, undertaking studies and making appropriate recommendations to the Commission, promoting an understanding of public discussions of right to health issues in Nigeria among other functions which may be prescribed from time to time.

  1. Body:

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), 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) etc.

  1. Activities:

The Commission has partnered with several MDAs like the Ministry of Health and National Agency for the Control of Aids as well as varied INGO’s and NGO’s over the years towards the realization of its goal in advancing the right to health of Nigerian. The Commission put in place the NHRC Critical Mass to mainstream HIV/AIDS in all sectoral activities. In furtherance of its mandate, the Commission plans to set up human rights desks in hospitals, conduct an intervention in the health section in response to complaints about quackery, malpractice and negligence in the health sector amongst other laudable and lofty goals.

Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), focusing on health, is to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”, however, it should be noted that almost all the Goals can be linked to health as a well-functioning health system is fundamental to the right to health and therefore the realisation of other SDGs. State parties are already legally obliged under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) to “devote maximum available resources to the right to health”, which includes funding struggling health systems. 

  1. Challenges:

In recent years, notable progress has been made, but significant challenges remain. Women around the world continue to lack access to sexual and reproductive health care; thousands of new cases of HIV/AIDS continue to occur each day, billions of people are left without access to essential medicines, millions of adults and children suffer from undernourishment.

  1. Conclusion:

Health is a fundamental human right and a key indicator of sustainable development. Poor health threatens the rights of children to education, limits economic opportunities for men and women and increases poverty within communities and countries around the world. It is also impacted by poverty and strongly connected to other aspects of sustainable development, including water and sanitation, gender equality, climate change and peace and stability.

In order to accelerate progress and address new health challenges, all actors, including the private sector need to partner to develop health care solutions that work for people, families, communities and nations and it is the work of the National Human Rights Commission to ensure that it is at the forefront of the fight to promote, protect and enforce the human rights of all Nigerians.