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:

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.

Precedent 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.
Namibia: Coerced sterilisation of HIV-positive women.
Malawi: Mandatory HIV testing of women.
Zimbabwe: Protecting employees living with HIV from unlawful dismissal.

Publications:

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).

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