Ugandan Court: access to healthcare is a human right


Justice Benjamin Kabiito (C)


The High Court of Uganda has today declared that the right to health is a matter of serious judicial consideration in Uganda.

High Court judge Justice Benjamin Kabiito, while delivering a judgment in which The Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) and others sued Nakaseke District Local Administration (Civil Suit No.111 of 2012) for negligence leading to the death of one Irene Nanteza, declared that the deceased’s rights to access emergency Obstetric care, life, health, freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and equality and those of her children were violated.

The case was initiated after CEHURD was notified of the death of Nanteza who had gone to deliver a baby at Nakaseke district Hospital on 5th May 2011. While at the hospital the deceased was left unattended to for a whole day with no medical officer to offer her a C-section since the nurses on duty had found her suffering an obstructed labour. She bled to death.

CEHURD challenged the deliberate denial of the deceased access to emergence obstetric care for approximately 10 hours prior to her death and denial of access to the hospital ambulance to transfer the deceased to another health facility.

“Every woman in Uganda has a right to access emergence obstetric care. In Article 33(3) of the Constitution, the government of Uganda has committed to protect women and their rights, taking into account their unique status and natural maternal functions in society.” Moses Mulumba, the Executive Director of CEHURD noted.

“Today’s judgement lays a very important precedent to Ugandans that have lost their mothers, wives, sisters and daughters due to preventable maternal deaths.

We now have a platform for advocacy to ensure that expectant mothers have access to emergency obstetric care, access to quality antenatal care, access to maternal health commodities and to ensure that health workers that attend to them are well motivated,” he added.