141: Resolution on Access to Health and Needed Medicines in Africa

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, meeting at its 44th Ordinary Session held in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria, from the 10 th to 24 th November 2008:

Reaffirming that Article 16 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights guarantees the right to enjoy the best attainable state of physical and mental health and that States must ensure that everyone has access to medical care;

Alarmed that essential medicine, were available in only 38% of all public and private health care facilities in Africa between 2001 and 2007;

Stressing that the right to health is not confined to a right to health care but embraces all underlying aspects of health;

Recognizing that access to needed medicines for treatment, prevention and palliative care is a necessary condition for leading a healthy and dignified life;

Recognizing that access to needed medicines is a fundamental component of the right to health and that S tates parties to the African Charter have an obligation to provide where appropriate needed medicines, or facilitate access to them;

Recognizing further that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health has explained that “access to medicines forms an indispensable part of the right to the highest attainable standard of health” and that, therefore, the right to health mandates that State promote “the realization of the right to medicines for all”;

Urges States to guarantee the full scope of access to needed medicines, including:

  1. The availability in sufficient quantities of needed medicines, including existing medicines and the development of new medicines needed for the highest attainable level of health;
  2. The accessibility of needed medicines to everyone without discrimination, including
  1. The acceptability of medicine supplies, being respectful of cultural norms and medical ethics;
  2. The quality of medicine supplies, ensuring that available medicines are safe, effective and medically appropriate;

Calling on States to fulfill their duties with respect to access to medicines, in particular:

  1. To promote access to medicines by refraining from measures that negatively affect access, such as:
  1. To protect access to needed medicines from actions by third parties through regulatory systems that:
  1. To fulfill access to medicines by adopting all necessary and appropriate positive measures to the maximum of its available resources to promote, provide and facilitate access to needed medicines, including:

Mandates the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to further define State obligations related to access to medicines and to develop model monitoring and assessment guidelines.


Done in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria, on 24th November 2008.