The right to health in Nigeria and South Africa: the need for effective integration of food safety
Keywords:food, food safety, health and law, right to health, Nigeria, South Africa
Food safety is a public health issue. The World Health Organisation reports that almost 1 in 10 people in the world fall ill after
consuming contaminated food and 420,000 die every year. In Africa, more than 91 million people fall ill and 137,000 die each year of foodborne diseases. Several legal instruments recognise the right to health in Nigeria and South Africa. In Nigeria, the right to health is non-justiciable under chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution. The National Health Act is the main law
that regulates, develops and manages the health system. In South Africa, the right to health is recognised as a fundamental right. While these steps are commendable, food safety is yet to be effectively incorporated in these instruments. Nigeria and South Africa are state parties to treaties such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the
African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. However, these treaties fail to accommodate food safety as one of their essential attributes. This article contends that foodborne diseases have a significant impact on the recognition and enforcement of the right to health. Relying primarily on analytical methods of research, the article assesses the efficacy of legal machinery in recognising food safety as a crucial component of the right to health in the jurisdictions under study. It is important for Nigeria and South Africa to achieve effective integration of food safety as an indispensable component of the right to health in Africa.