The National Catholic Secretariat on Thursday launched a national campaign for the inclusion of “Right to Health” in any new Constitution that will emanate from the Constitution Review process.
Dubbed, “Agenda for Right to Good Health (Aright), the Right to Health, according to the Catholic Secretariat, should replace Article 30 of Chapter 5 of the 1992 Constitution on the “Right of the Sick”.
The Secretariat said the “Right to Health” should be included in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution to mandate government and other implementing state agencies to ensure that every Ghanaian have access to total health care in the country.
“The Right to Health” will encompass the nutrition, environmental hygiene and sanitation and many other health issues that affect everybody right from the rural areas to the big cities nationwide,” Mr Samuel Zan Akologo, Executive Secretary, Department of Human Development, National Catholic Secretariat, explained during the launch ceremony in Accra.
He said the “Right of the Sick” as enshrined in the Constitution only looks at the individual persons’ access to health.
Mr Akologo said the call by the Secretariat was in line with recommendation of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC), which after extensive rounds of consultations endorsed that the “Right to Health” should replace the Right of the Sick.
He said instead of government accepting the will of the people through the CRC, government white paper prepared in response to the CRC report noted that: “while government accept the recommendations of the CRC on the Right listed under the sub-theme Nine, government is of the opinion that those rights are best addressed under the chapter dealing with the Directive Principles of State Policy”.
Mr Akologo further explained that those issues listed in Sub-theme nine were, economic, social and cultural rights and include, right to food, right to health, right to education and religious right.
“We are launching this campaign to ensure the recommendation of the CRC to include the Right to Health in the Bill of Rights of the new Constitution is adopted. For us this is the surest way to place economic, social and cultural rights at the same level as civic and political rights in terms of recognition, benefits and remedies” he noted.
He described the campaign launch as building strategic partnerships and mobilising more broadly to prosecute the 'Aright' campaign.
“We are signaling to the Constitution Review Implementation Committee, which is currently engaged in the technical drafting and our august legislative body, who are expected to endorse the final proposals for the new constitution, to make sure that this public interest matter is upheld and included in the Bill of Right”.
Mr Adelaide Mary Benneh, Chairperson of the Board of Directors, IFC Financial Service, who chaired the function, commended the Catholic Secretariat for the campaign to ensure that there was a universal access to health care and that people enjoy total health.
Dr Afisa Zakaria, Director, in charge Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Ministry of Health, said the call by the Secretariat was in the right directions since the Catholic Church together with the Christian Health Association provide health care needs to more than 10 per cent of the population.
She said the Ministry acknowledged the partnerships with the Church and other private institutions in the provision of health services to all and assured the Secretariat that a lot was being done by government in ensuring quality and total health for all.
She announced that a new health policy plan was being developed by the Ministry to cover 2014 to 2017 and said the issues being raised by the Secretariat would be looked at and addressed accordingly.
The Noble Order of the Knights and Ladies of Marshall, a group in the Catholic Church under its Marshallan Relief and Development Services, in collaboration with Star-Ghana, UKaid, USAID and DANIDA are sponsoring the “Right to Health” campaign.
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