Pakistan needs to incorporate the right to health in its constitution and province of Sindh require to draft a policy on right to health to every citizen like right to education guaranteed in the constitution of Pakistan. Policy of right to health for every citizen needs a lot to do to let the people know and care about their health issues. Before marriage, the marriageable male and female individuals need to test themselves medically to know whether they are safe from sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) and inherited diseases like minor thalassemia. Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) having long institutional memory in legislative and policy advocacy may support in this cause to the Government of Sindh. This was stated by Miss. Shammim Mumtaz representing PPP a member of provincial assembly Sindh (MPA) in Karachi at local hotel during lobbying meeting with parliamentarians of SPO Karachi Region.
The meeting was held to discuss the national plan of action on International Covenant on “Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)” as Pakistan ratified this covenant in 2008; however there has been very limited or no progress to incorporate these rights in the constitution by relevant legislation as well as there has been very limited budgetary allocations to achieve these rights in letter and spirit. Without these two essential steps, no country can progress towards the realization of ESC rights. With the passage of 18th Amendment we have now got an opportunity to engage the provincial governments as most of the rights are now with them. “We need to enhance our advocacy policies, engage with provincial governments and also help them to legislate appropriate laws regarding ICESCR. It was highlighted by Reheema Panhwar the Program specialist SPO while presenting the objectives of the meeting. She also shared the brief presentation of Citizen First Project. She shared that SPO teams are implementing this project in four districts of Sindh including Sukkur, Khairpur, Larkana and Shikarpur. In these districts targeted communities are mobilized and sensitized towards basic human rights, promotion of peace and tolerance and provision of quality social services.
The main emphasis of the government should be to implement laws which are already enforced and make concerted efforts to legislate those rights which are not part of the constitution like right to health which is not included in fundamental rights chapter. There should be a holistic committee established with the consultation of all relevant stakeholders to monitor and oversee the progress and demand for new policies for right to education, right to health, right to work, right to housing, right to adequate standard of living, social security and cultural rights so that our legislation deficit in context of ICESCR can be minimized or eliminated,highlighted by Mr. Illahi Bux Baloch Regional Head SPO Karachi.
With regard to the right to education, the federal and provincial governments should establish educational facilities from primary schools to universities in accordance with article 25-A of the constitution. In this context, a monitoring mechanism should be there to implement the article 25-An in letter and spirit. Besides it there should be incentives to promote girls’ education and human rights education should be included in curriculum to remove all hateful discriminatory contents in curriculum. Health rights have got great impetus and significance all over the world. In order to give due attention to health issues appropriate legislative, administrative, budgetary and judicial measures for health rights should be initiated. Health sector needs to increase its budgetary allocation and maximum resources should be allocated for women’s health. Domestic violence should be recognized as public health issue and marginalized populations should have accessibility of healthcare,emphasized by Mr. Illahi Bux Baloch.
Work is most important asset and right of an individual and more resources should be allocated for generating employment opportunities. Low wages have devalued the work of an individual and in this regard the minimum wage should be raised. Employment gap between provinces, urban and rural areas and between genders need to be addressed. Laws and enforcement mechanisms should be formulated and properly implemented to regulate the informal labour sector. Occupational safety and labor laws need to be improved to improve the working conditions and work place safety requirements. Bonded and child labor should be abolished to comply with the constitution,insisted by Mr. Illahi Bux Baloch.
Government should develop appropriate infrastructure for low cost housing schemes throughout the country with all basic facilities such as water supply, sanitation, electricity, gas supply and paved roads. Any forced evictions should be discouraged and if inevitable alternative settlement should be provided in adjacent areas to facilitate victims. Women are not ensured the right to claim share of family property that should be also ensured as guaranteed in law,stated by Mr. Illahi Bux Baloch.
Food for all is the basic right guaranteed and to ensure right to food for all and it is essential for women to have ownership, access, management and control over productive resources as matter of right. Government should also provide social security to its citizens as an obligation and responsibility. Social Protection should be based on the human rights framework and its ILO’S social protection framework. Social security to high risk group as old age, disability, illness, orphans, female headed households, accident, and maternity and unpaid care work and to the disaster affected vulnerable populations should be prioritized to provide services. Government should be initiate insurance schemes for vulnerable groups, insisted by Mr. Illahi Bux Baloch.
The state must recognize, protect and promote cultural diversity throughout the country as well as promote all sub-cultures through education. The state should promote cultural diversity and encourage peoples to take part in cultural celebrations on Eid, Christmas, Besakhi, Holi and other cultural festivals. Writers and poets should be given greater respect, status and recognition as well as monetary support and state patronage to write, mentioned by Mr. Illahi Bux Baloch.