TAME “ SCOURGE “ OF PTSD, RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND NEOLIBERALISM TO REALIZE RIGHT TO HEALTH – PROF. OLOKA

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Speaking at the 10th Anniversary of the Center for Health Human Rights and Development(CEHURD) a non profit based in Kampala, Maverick Makerere Law Professor, Joe Oloka Onyango called upon stakeholders to find “cure” for the “ailments” of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ( PTSD), Human Rights Violations and Neoliberalism- market based economic policies which he said are retarding the realisation of the Right to Health and general Country socioeconomic development.

” Over the 57 years of our Independence, we have collectively experienced and jointly borne witness to so many terrifying events including military coup detats,armed conflicts,extensive Sexual and Gender Based Violence,Police brutality, life term and age limitless dictatorships… However we have failed to receive adequate treatment for them. That lack of treatment partly explains the numerous social,political,economic and health problems that we experience today”

According to the Professor, the Right to Health means everyone has the right to the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health and thus health state of Ugandans is pivotal in what he described as a “struggle” for the realization of this right which includes access to all medical services,sanitation,adequate food,decent housing,healthy working conditions, among other elements.

He lauded CEHURD for being “vibrant, vivacious and vigorous” in its work in a “ neglected” area of promoting and protecting the Right to Health. Professor Oloka said he was particularly impressed by the Organization’s litigation strategy aimed at establishing the justiciability(enforcement by Courts of Law) of the Right to Health in a Judicial System “only grudgingly” accepting the Right’s Justiciability.

CEHURD has litigated a total of 35 cases- 10 have been concluded and 25 are pending. In concert with several other petitioners, the Organization has brought 17 cases against the Attorney General(Government),8 against Local Governments,4 against Statutory Bodies,4 against Private Hospitals,3 against Private Organisations,2 against Church hospitals,4 against medical personnel and 2 against Individuals.

” even if I don’t have an MB.ChB, I can safely declare that CEHURD’s systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings are perfect; it has no chronic diseases and its prognosis is excellent “ the Professor said of the non profit’s performance.

However, he noted that the “development” moniker in CEHURD’s mission contained in its name is the least developed.This he largely blamed on the “hegemony” of neoliberalism which he said must be “ challenged.” According to him, neoliberalism propagates a notion that the Private Sector is superior to the Public Sector needs and as a result the Country has focused a lot more on the acquisition of resources alone and not their utilization and distribution. Quoting from the biblical book of Mark, the Professor questioned the wisdom of the tendency – “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world yet forfeit their soul?” By this analogy, he suggested Uganda was acquiring more in resources but losing the core of development – social protection as the Country is privatizing Public social services such as health, reducing overall public funding, placing individual accomplishment and capacity at the fore instead of social protection of the community, among other tendencies.

” How can you decide to spend over a half billion dollars on a single hospital project such as the one at Luboowa when the same amount of money can create and equip numerous health care centres around the Country?” He wondered.

Going forward, the Professor advised CEHURD to engage in Policy debates and more activist interventions over the Right to Health and not just litigation. He also called upon the Organization to build stronger alliances with other Civil Society groups on Health Rights and Social Justice Issues. On its litigation strategies, the Organization was advised to reinvigorate debate over enforcement issues and come up with new ways of ensuring court orders are obeyed by the Executive which the Professor said should include private prosecutions of state officials notorious for impunity and recalcitrance.

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