Author: Ashwanee Budoo-Scholtz
Programme Manager of the Master’s in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
When Mauritius recorded its first Covid-19 case on 18 March 2020, the country already had the strong backbone of the ‘solid social protection system’ to ensure that affected sections of the society are supported. In the area of health, in 2011, it was estimated that Mauritius had 3.4 hospital beds per 1000 population which was better than most sub-Saharan African countries. Hence, one could assume that the government of Mauritius would not face the failure of countries such as South Africa when it came to the provision of health care services for those affected by Covid-19.
As of 1 October 2021, Mauritius had a total of 15,695 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 84 deaths. This was after the country relaxed its lockdown restrictions at the national level. The government has time and again spoken with pride of it being a best practice when it comes to preparedness for dealing with the Covid-19 virus. Indeed, once the country was hit by its first case of COVID-19, it started taking all measures possible to make sure it deals with the provision of health care services. To begin with, in the initial stages, it identified the New Souillac hospital and the New Ear Nose and Throat Hospital (New ENT Hospital) as a quarantine and isolation centre for those showing moderate to severe symptoms of Covid-19. For those with mild symptoms, they were isolated in make-shift treatment centres free of charge with regular follow-up. As the pandemic evolved, the country designated the New ENT Hospital, ‘equipped with the latest modern equipment and technology’ as the facility for treating Covid-19. Hence, anyone testing positive for Covid-19 with symptoms would be transferred to the New ENT Hospital. The country has also fully vaccinated more than half of the population.
The United Republic of Tanzania is currently in the process of enacting a new constitution. In the text of the final draft of the proposed constitution (http://sheria.go.tz/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=44&Itemid=68) currently being deliberated by the constituent assembly, are interesting proposals to include important social and economic rights (ESR) as justiciable rights. But the specific content of rights and scope of obligations to be incorporated therein is a matter that is likely to be controversial. Indeed, judicial adjudication of ESR is a matter that is often still disputed or even entirely rejected in many national legal systems. Like many other domestic jurisdictions, Tanzania adopts the idealized distinction of human rights and the popular perception remains that, for lack of constitutional recognition, ESR are simply objectives and principles of state policy as opposed to legally enforceable rights. Nonetheless, socio-economic rights occupy a central place in the well-being of the human person and the international community has accordingly recognised a positive international legal framework imposing varied obligations to advance these rights.
On Monday 25 February 2014, Uganda’s long serving president Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014 (previously referred to as Kill the Gays Bill”). The Long Title thereof provides that this “Act [is intended] to prohibit any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex; prohibit the promotion or recognition of such relations and to provide for other related matters.” Museveni has also, on record, called homosexuals “disgusting and unnatural” persons. The legislation has since received widespread condemnation from human rights organisations and leaders across the globe.
Whereas homosexuality was, since the colonial era, outlawed with the introduction of the British colonial rule and justice system, the new legislation is an all time low. Section 2(2) of the Act provides for a mandatory life sentence for persons convicted of “homosexual acts”. Section 1 of the Act has a wide margin of what constitutes “homosexual acts” such as “the touching of another’s breast, vagina, penis or anus, … however slight …. with any part of the body or through anything”.
Ensuring access to essential medicines through the inclusion of the right to health in the Mauritian ConstitutionPosted: 5 March, 2013 | |
The right to health is protected by various international and regional instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 25), the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (article 12) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (article 16) and being a party to these instruments, Mauritius has the obligation to ensure that its citizens’ right to health is protected. One aspect of the right to health is the right to access essential medicines. Essential medicines have been defined by the World Health Organisation as those which satisfy the health care needs of a majority of the population. In view of fulfilling this right Mauritius, a welfare state, provides for free essential medicines in government hospitals, area health centres and community health centres.