UGANDA – Constitutional Court is the first African court to declare maternal health a constitutional right

Congratulations to Moses Mulumba (above), Director of the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) and three co-petitioners who, after nine years of dedication and perseverance, have received a favourable interpretation from the Constitutional Court of Uganda at Kampala.

The Constitutional Court found a violation of the rights to health, life, gender equality and freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment in the preventable deaths in childbirth of two women, Sylvia Nalubowa and Jennifer Anguko, who died in hospital due to the unavailability of basic maternal commodities.

As Mulumba gratefully informed supporters: “The Constitutional Court agreed with our submissions and all judges accepted all the grounds of the petition. Through this judgment, the right to maternal health care (and the right to health broadly) has been granted a place in Uganda’s Constitution. The judgment recognises basic maternal health care services and emergency obstetric care…. Moving forward, we can work together to ensure that this judgment brings lasting change to [the] health system in Uganda, within the African region and globally.”

All the key declarations of the Court centred around the government’s omission to adequately provide basic maternal health care services and adequate emergency obstetric care in public health facilities. In order to meet the constitutional obligation of the State to uphold the right of women and fulfil their reproductive rights, the Court told the government it should, in the next financial year, prioritise and provide sufficient funds in the national budget for maternal health care and ensure that all the staff who provide maternal health care services in Uganda are fully trained and all health centres are equipped within the next two financial years.

SOURCE: “Ugandan Constitutional Court judgment: Maternal health is a constitutional right,” International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, Reprohealthlaw Blog Commentary, 31 August 2020. PHOTO ; VIDEO