AN ANALYSIS OF THE LEGAL AND INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR THE REALIZATION OF THE RIGHT TO HEALTH IN NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT


Health is an important element of an individual life and also to the individual’s country.
A country cannot develop with its citizens sick and dying. A healthy state is a wealthy
state. As such, states must provide adequately for the health of its citizens. The research
analysed international law and national legal framework that regulate the health system
under international law and in Nigeria. It also examined health policies, institutions and
other regulatory bodies established for the protection of the right to health in Nigeria.
The research was informed by the dismal performance of Nigeria’s health care system
when the World Health Organization assessed its 191 member states in terms of
responsiveness, fairness, overall goal attainment, level of health expenditure per capita,
impact on health and overall performance. Nigeria was ranked 187 out of 191 despite its
human and natural resources compared with many other African countries which is
indeed a cause for concern. This is evidenced from the high level of maternal and
childhood mortality, HIV/AIDS related deaths which continue to ravage families and
communities, the slow pace of attaining international goals for health and survival and
negative progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).The
research adopted as methodology the doctrinal approach which entailed the use of
relevant literature including international instruments, reports and general
comments/recommendations. Nigeria is a party to the major regional and international
human rights instruments recognizing and protecting the right to health and has assumed
tripartite obligations- obligations to respect protect and fulfill the right to health of the
Nigerians. Right to health under the Nigerian Constitution is non -justiciable. However,
non justiciability of the right to health is a challenge but not a bar to the protection of the
said right. It does not also absolve Nigeria from its obligation to protect health of its
citizens. The research finds that according health the status of non-justiciable right is not
infact related to any inability to deal with socio-economic rights including the right to
health as was exemplified with the experience of South Africa which has justiciable socioeconomic rights including the right to health. It also finds that the debate whether or not
the right to health exist or is non-justiciable is irrelevant as the Indian experience
revealed. The research therefore, recommends the court to adopt judicial activism in
adjudicating socio-economic rights including the right to health as is done in India. The
research finds that Nigeria had put in place and established laws, policies and
institutions for the protection of health of her citizens. The research also finds that
several factors impede the realization of the right to health in Nigeria including legal
impediments, socio-economic impediment and lack of political will on the part of the
government. It is also a finding of the research that Nigeria is moving at a slow pace
towards attaining the MDGs with less than a year to the target date. Although the
research finds that some progress had been achieved especially in reducing childhood
mortality and halting HIV/AIDS, the progress is not sufficient to meet the MDGs target
date of 2015. The research finds that several key challenges exist which exercabates the
slow pace at which Nigeria is moving towards achieving the MDGs notably among them
are lack of reproductive health care services, poverty, low socio-economic status of
women, inequities in the distribution of human health resources which if addressed will
come a long way in helping Nigeria to move faster towards achieving the MDGs and
subsequently in fulfilling its obligations under the right to health.

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