What is a human right?
A human right is the minimum conditions / entitlements for an individual to live a life with Dignity. Human rights are legal guarantees provided for in the constitutions of most countries, Kenya Included, which determines the relationship, duties and responsibilities of the rulers, governed and the behavior of people who comprise a society. The government as such, should protect human Rights.
The Characteristics of Human Rights are:
• They are universal (for all, everywhere at all times)
• Equality and Non-discrimination: All individuals are equal as human beings and by virtue of the inherent dignity of each human person
• Rights are inalienable (can’t be taken away or given up by a human being)
• Participation is a fundamental right (everyone is entitled to demand his or her rights)
• Rights are indivisible and inter-dependent (denying certain rights undermines respect for other rights)
• Rights enable us to demand if necessary what is due, without having to beg for kindness or compassion
• All rights are equally important and have corresponding duty bearers and right holders, who should work towards their successful fulfillment through the activities they engage in and how they engage in them.
• Duty bearers as human beings have human rights, which should be respected by right’s holders.
•The access to a human right does not give an individual the right to violate another persons’ right.
a) Civil and Political Rights
- Right to life
- Right to information
- Right to freedom of movement
- Right to peaceful assembly
b) Economic Social and Cultural Rights
- Rights of indigenous peoples and minorities
- Rights of women
- Rights of the child
- Rights of older persons
- The right of self-determination
- The right to education
- The right to health
- The right to emergency medical treatment
- The right to reproductive health
- Rights of persons with Disability
- Rights that enhance social welfare, progress and development
- Right to family and marriage
- Right to work and to fair conditions of employment
c) Environment and development rights
The underlying assumptions in having human rights are that:
- There is an authority, which defines the minimum conditions for an individual to live in dignity
- There is recognition that not everyone enjoys these minimum conditions
- There are mechanisms for identifying the gaps – violation and non-fulfillment of rights
- There is a system that can fill the gaps, and provide redress in case of violations of human rights
What is the right to health?
The WHO Constitution defines the right to health as "the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health," and enumerates some principles of this right as healthy child development; equitable dissemination of medical knowledge and its benefits; and government-provided social measures to ensure adequate health.
Patient rights in healthcare delivery include: the right to privacy, information, life, and quality care, as well as freedom from discrimination, torture, and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment.
Health rights in Kenya
The promulgation of the constitution of Kenya by H.E. President Mwai Kibaki, CGH, MP, on 27th August, 2010 was a major milestone towards the improvement of health standards. Citizen’s high expectations are grounded on the fact that the new Constitution states that every citizen has right to life, right to the highest attainable standard of health including reproductive health and emergency treatment, right to be free from hunger and to have food of acceptable quality, right to clean, safe and adequate water and reasonable standards of sanitation and the right to a clean healthy environment.