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African Commission on
Human and Peoples' Rights

Continental conference on the impact of COVID-19 on the Rights of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) 30 June - 02 July 2022 Windhoek, Namibia Key Conclusions And Recommendations (The Windhoek Declaration)


Preamble 

WHEREAS the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV (the Committee) held a Continental Conference on the Impact of COVID-19 on HIV responses in Africa. The following were the main objectives:

I.          To raise awareness and build knowledge on the importance of a human rights-based approach in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasise its significance as an essential element for the protection of HIV-related human rights; and

II.          To draw out lessons learnt from the HIV response to contribute to ongoing conversations on building resilience against future pandemics and other global health and development challenges and developing guiding documents on the same.

 

WHEREAS the specific objectives were: 

I.          To widely disseminate existing legislations and soft laws of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the ACHPR) on the promotion and protection of the rights of PLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations and sensitising/educating relevant stakeholders (including enforcement agencies and donors) on the same;

II.          To engage with relevant stakeholders (including state and non-state entities) on crucial human rights issues affecting availability, affordability and accessibility of healthcare services byPLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations, especially within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic;

III.          To find common ground and deliberate on ways and means to implement concrete strategies and programmes for the protection of the rights of PLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations; and

IV.          To serve as a platform for researchers, policymakers and actors in the private sector to meet and have a consensus on regional solidarity as an instrument to accelerating HIV/AIDS responses on the continent and building resilience against future pandemics and other global health and development challenges.

 

WHEREAS there were 33 participants in the Conference including 2 ACHPR Commissioners,9 ACHPR staff members, 3 representatives of international organisations, 7 local participants from the Namibian (Host) Government,8 members from NGOs, experts; medical practitioners & other stakeholders,3 Expert Members of the HIV Committee and a Representative of a Member State.

WHEREAS presentations and deliberations during plenaries and Break Away Sessions were made on various thematic issues related to the rights to healthcare by PLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations amid COVID-19, followed by fruitful panel discussions during which participants shared their concerns, experiences, challenges and best practicesfor the adequate protection of the rights of PLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations during and after the pandemic.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, the Conference makes the following recommendationsto the following stakeholders:

 

A.   TO STATE PARTIES

State parties should:

1)     Review existing laws and policies and enact new laws when necessary to decriminalise, end stigmatisation, and facilitate integrated and coordinated service delivery to PLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations.;

2)     Implement the Abuja Declaration which calls on Member States of the AU to allocate at least 15% of their national budget to the health sector;

3)      Put in place incentive policies and substantial investments for the local production of medical equipment, products and services in strict compliance with the promotion and the right to health;

4)     Take proactive measures to invest in cross-border partnerships that facilitate free movement of PLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations and their access to medical products, knowledge, personnel and services; and

5)     Develop, publish and disseminate a legal compendium and guide and publicly accessible databases on access to health care and services in general and on the response to HIV and COVID-19 in particular.

 

B.    TO THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (The Commission) should:

1)     Advise States to review national laws and policies, and provide concrete, achievable and time-bound guidance on epidemic preparedness, including on the rights of PLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations;

2)     Promote guidelines for the development and implementation of laws related to the right to health.;

3)     Extend the mandate of the HIV Committee to include other health crises, preparedness and social inclusion in Africa;

4)     Provide guidelines on the roles of various stakeholders in responding to the impact of Covid-19 on PLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations; and

5)     Set up a Monitoring and Assessment Plan for the implementation of the recommendations stemming from the various activities of the Committee.

 

C.    TO NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTIONS

The National Human Rights Institutions should:

1)     Assess and ensure governments’ compliance with international human rights norms, develop national guidelines on the right to health, pandemic preparedness and response, and social protection and report to the Commission and any relevant legal body as stated in Article 62 of the Charter;

2)     Advise State parties to develop laws and policies for the realisation of the right to health and social protection of PLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations and on the roles of various stakeholders in the implementation of laws and policies;

3)     Conduct studies, investigate cases and gather data and evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on the rights of PLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations; and

4)     Generate, disseminate and enable access to evidence-based, easily accessible and people-centred information on the HIV and Covid-19 laws, programmes and services.          

 

D.   TO CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS

Civil Society Organisations should:

1)     Monitor, collect data on, advocate for and raise public awareness on the impact of COVID-19 on PLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations;

2)     Make recommendations and influence laws and policies that enhance the protection and promotion of the human rights of PLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations in the context of COVID-19;

3)     Organise campaigns to generate and/or boost political will among decision-makers to mainstream human rights-based approaches in responding to COVID-19 impact on PLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations;

4)     Hold governments accountable for a commitment to health financing, transparency in health spending and inclusive service delivery; and

5)     Advocate for research on the impact of government health financing through public means, transparent health expenditure and service delivery programmes on PLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by HIV, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations.

 

E.     TO THE MEDIA

The media should:

1)     Accurately and faithfully report on health and social protection issues ith regard to the impact of COVID-19 PLHIV and those at risk, vulnerable to and affected by the disease, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations;

2)     Create networks of journalists reporting on health and social care issues for all groups.

 

F.     TO INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS

The International partners should:

  1. Commit to the adoption of fair and equitable international laws, policies and systems for the production and distribution of medical products and services aimed at ensuring availability and adequate access, affordability to PLHIV and people at risk, vulnerable to HIV infection and those affected by the disease, as well as other vulnerable groups and key populations;
  2. Develop strategic partnerships to facilitate access to health products and technologies for developing countries; and
  3. Take actions to facilitate access to financing for health promotion and the response to pandemics and emerging diseases.

 

Done in Windhoek, Namibia, on July, 2nd 2022