MDG 5, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND MATERNAL HEALTH IN AFRICA
speed that is not commensurate with their level of development or available
resources, especially if they take regressive steps.227 Lamentably, this is the
case in the vast majority of countries in Africa with most of them blaming
resource deficiency.228 Yet, as argued elsewhere, “the tortured reliance on
resource constraints as explanatory of the region’s health sector woes serves
no useful purpose.”229 The reason is simple: “[e]ven amidst scarcity, proper
utilization of available resources would go a long way in improving general
health and wellbeing.”230 Nonetheless, proper resource utilization is the
exception, not the rule, in most countries in the region. And nowhere is this
more glaring than in the health sector.
The duty to ensure or protect and promote maternal health is of a status
that is comparable to minimum core obligations,231 from which derogation
is impermissible, even due to resource constraints.232 Non-derogability
derives from the idea that compliance with the obligation will not
overwhelm public resources—in other words, goods and services needed to
satisfy minimum core obligations could be provided with relative ease.233
The reasoning is that no sovereign nation is so resource strapped as to be
incapable of providing required facilities, goods and services. This
becomes apparent when it is considered that all the resources at the disposal
of the nation, including foreign assistance, are taken into account and
included in calculating the resources available for health.234 And here, there
is a synergistic relationship between the human rights approach to
extricating developing nations from the clutches of maternal health
quandary and the programmatic framework of the MDGs. More resources
for meeting human rights treaty obligations signify forward momentum
toward the MDGs in the sense of deployment of those same resources
toward attaining the benchmarks of health MDGs.
In anticipation of claims of resource deficiency as a barrier to protecting
content. Rather, progressive realization means that States Parties have a specific and
continuing obligation to move as expeditiously and effectively as possible towards the full
realization of [the right].”).
227. Id. para. 32 (declaring the impermissibility of retrogressive measures in relation to
the right to health).
228. See generally Kleptocracy, supra note 145.
229. Nnamuchi, The Nigerian Social Health Insurance System, supra note 139.
231. General Comment No. 14, supra note 149, paras. 43-44(a).
232. Id. para. 47.
233. The Maastricht Guidelines on Violations of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
20 HUM. RTS. Q. 691, 695 (1998); see also Victor Dankwa, Cees Flinterman & Scott Leckie,
The Maastricht Guidelines on Violations of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 20 HUM.
RTS. Q. 705, 717 (1998).
234. The Limburg Principles, supra note 146, para. 26.