Ministry of Health headquarters, Afya House, Nairobi. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The International Commission of Jurists ICJ Kenya Chapter has found that the right to health is far from being enjoyed by most of the population in the country due to sociocultural, economic, policy, legal, systemic and structural challenges.

This has come out in a review report of the legal and policy frameworks on the right to health in Kenya that showed that the right to health as per the constitution is not being promoted or protected.

The Constitution of Kenya guarantees every person the right to the highest attainable standard of health which constitutes the right to healthcare services such as reproductive healthcare and emergency medical treatment.

"While the current policy and legal framework for the right to health is robust, the standards adopted by the state as enforceable obligations are not clarified and operationalised at the national and county levels," reads part of the report.

As per the report by ICJ, the full enjoyment of the right to health revolves around availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality, all leading towards achieving the Universal Health Coverage Sustainable Development Goal by 2030.

According to the study conducted by ICJ, health facilities are highly inadequate in most counties in the country, although 33 out of the 47 counties have attained the World Health Organization target on health facility density.


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In the available health facilities, it has been found that there is an inadequate supply and frequent stock-outs of medicines and commodities.

Therefore, the jurists recommend that the government should ensure sustainable health sector financing through regulation, advocacy, costing of health functions, and donor coordination.

It has been shown that discriminatory practices are common within the health systems and have in return inhibited access to health services such as emergency medical care.

This is linked to limited access to education and other economic opportunities, prohibitive health care costs, weak public health system, geographical barriers, ineffective referral system, and inadequate regulation of public and private health service providers.

The report underpins the importance of accessibility of health care services and that the lack thereof will lead to the exclusion of millions of Kenyans from accessing quality Universal Health Coverage by 2030.

Therefore, ICJ recommends the improvement of access to quality healthcare services through capacity development and technical assistance to counties.

Ill-treatment of patients in health facilities has been shown to make many people only visit health facilities as a last resort.

This is because health services in Kenya are perceived to be discriminative based on gender, age, or disability, and marginalising women and girls in terms of access to services such as sexual and reproductive health, hence, leading to a lack of acceptability of healthcare services.

Further, the report has also indicated that the quality of healthcare services in Kenya is affected by inadequate skilled medical personnel and the lack of drugs and equipment in health facilities.

It also states that the powers and functions of health are concurrent and shared between the national government and the counties, hence recommending the improvement of legislative and policy reforms and interventions as well as concurrent health functions that enable the full enjoyment of the right to health.

The ICJ suggests that this can be achieved by enhancing awareness and understanding of the right to health and citizens' capacity to claim their rights through deliberate programs and initiatives with civil societies.