As East African governments turned to stringent measures like isolation, quarantine and lockdown in a bid to control the spread of Covid-19, they may have infringed on human rights.
In a statement, seven organisations under the Eastern Africa National Networks of Aids and Health Service Organisation (Eannaso) based in Arusha, said the stringent measures are preventing East Africans from gaining access to health, justice, social protection and income.
Now they want the East African Community partner states to adhere to human-rights laws when responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Health emergencies often violate key rights to health, privacy and confidentiality, non-discrimination, freedom of assembly and collect timely information,” Eannaso said.
The NGOs are also asking the governments to work with them to revamp community-based initiatives.
“This will be critical in the phase of reconstruction that will ensure effective participation of civil society and communities in the planning and implementation of programmes for fighting Covid-19 and HIV,” the NGOs said.
Since March, most EAC partner states have taken up contact tracing, thermal screening and testing to check the spread of Covid-19. The governments have also ensured that treatment protocols are adhered to.
However, the NGOs are concerned about how the fight against the pandemic is limiting East Africans’ access to health and other essential services, triggering gender-based violence as well as violence against other vulnerable communities and truck drivers at borders.
Owing to the soaring numbers of Covid-19 patients at health facilities, people living with HIV are afraid to go there in case they catch the virus.