Health Rights

SALC’s Health Rights programme envisions a region in which the highest attainable standard of mental and physical health is enjoyed equally with full respect for human rights, and where health service users are empowered to enforce respect for their rights.
The Programme has the following objectives:

  • To reform laws, policies and practices that contribute to exclusion and discrimination in the enjoyment of health, including laws that undermine the right to informed consent and HIV criminalisation laws.
  • To remove legal barriers to effective HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria treatment, care and prevention and to rights-affirming mental health.
  • To develop legal protections for the dignity and human rights of people living with HIV and TB and mental health users.
  • To strengthen accountability for discrimination in healthcare settings.
  • To advance the enjoyment of social and environmental determinants of health, particularly for marginalised and vulnerable populations.

On-going cases:

Zimbabwe: Challenging criminalisation of breastfeeding by women living with HIV.
Africa: Challenging laws criminalising persons living with HIV.
Zambia: Challenging denial of legal capacity for persons with mental disabilities.
Malawi: Seeking an effective and humane response to MDR-TB in prison
Malawi: Enforcing prisoners’ right to adequate nutrition.
Malawi: Advancing human rights in mental health.

Completed cases:

Zambia: Protecting the health rights of HIV-positive prisoners.
Nigeria: Mandatory HIV testing and dismissal of an employee on the basis of HIV-status.
Malawi: Challenging the criminalisation of breastfeeding by a woman living with HIV.
Zambia: Challenging the Mental Disorders Act of 1949
Botswana: Securing access to antiretroviral treatment for non-citizen prisoners.
Zambia: Challenging mandatory HIV testing of military employees.
Malawi: The right to bail for terminally ill prisoners awaiting trial.
Lesotho: Application for access to healthcare for military detainee.
Malawi: Case challenging unmet palliative care in detention.
Malawi: Mandatory HIV testing of women.
Zimbabwe: Protecting employees living with HIV from unlawful dismissal.


Litigation Manuals:

HIV Criminalisation Defence Case Compendium 2018.
Litigation Manual: Litigating Cases of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (2013).
Litigation Manual: Protecting Rights: Litigating Cases of HIV Testing and Confidentiality of Status (2012).
Litigation Manual: Litigating Cases on HIV Discrimination (2011).

Training Tools:

Resource Page: Lawyers for HIV and TB Justice: Strategic Litigation, Legal Defence and Advocacy (2018).
Guidebook: Using Complaints to Address Healthcare Violations (2016).

Research Reports and Policy Briefs:

Research Report: Linking Climate, Gender and HIV Justice: A Preliminary Report on Access to HIV Treatment and Care for People Living on Lake Chilwa Islands, Malawi (2019).
Policy Brief: Access to Justice for Healthcare Violations: Guidance Note for Complaints Bodies (2017).
Research Report: Accountability and Redress for Discrimination in Healthcare in Botswana, Malawi and Zambia (2016).
Research Report: Tackling Cervical Cancer: Improving Access to Cervical Cancer Service in Southern Africa (2012).

25 Mar 2021 Staff Writer
Joint submission to the OHCHR for the Eswatini UPR...

SALC and ESGM made a joint submission to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for…

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01 Mar 2021 Staff Writer
Zimbabwe: Challenging criminalisation of breastfeeding by women living with HIV...

SALC is supporting private lawyer, Mr Tawanda Chakabva, in the criminal defence of a woman living with HIV who was …

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01 Mar 2021 Staff Writer
Africa: Challenging laws criminalising persons living with HIV...

Kenya: SALC is supporting an amicus submission by the HIV Justice Worldwide (HIVJWW)in a petition by 6 persons living with…

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26 Feb 2021 Staff Writer
Zambia: Challenging denial of legal capacity for persons with mental disabilitie...

SALC is supporting a petition by a person with psychosocial disabilities and the Disability Rights Watch (DRW) to repeal Section 4…

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01 Dec 2020 Staff Writer
Discussion document on the criminalisation of HIV in Angola...

In November 2020, The Southern Africa Litigation Centre, ARASA and HIV Justice Worldwide put together a discussion document on the…

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17 Jul 2020 Staff Writer

We the undersigned organizations reiterate our call for the immediate decongestion of prisons following two confirmed cases of COVID 19…

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26 May 2020 Staff Writer
SALC Policy Brief: A Legal Overview of the Impact of COVID-19 on Justice and Rig...

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, various countries in the Southern African region have put in place restrictions on gatherings,…

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20 May 2020 Staff Writer
Joint letter on immediate and urgent measures to protect the rights of prison de...

Non-governmental human rights organisations joined in writing a letter to President John Pombe Magufuli on immediate and urgent measures to…

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