Health Rights Advocacy Forum (HERAF) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works through strategic partners in the form of health professionals' bodies and associations, NGOs, patients' organisations, faith-based organisations (FBOs), research institutions and universities involved in health issues, and health, HIV/AIDS, and human rights networks, among others, to advocate for health as a fundamental human right in Kenya. It was established in 2006 and registered as an NGO in Kenya by the NGO coordination board in 2007.

Vision: A Kenyan community where health is upheld and enjoyed as a human right.

Mission: To empower Kenyans to enjoy the right to health through increased human rights awareness, evidence-based policy advocacy, efforts to strengthen citizens' participation in health sector governance, and budgeting processes.

Core values: upholding human dignity; equity, inclusivity, and accessibility; accountability and transparency; and commitment.

Communication Strategies: 

HERAF's strategic areas of focus include:

  1. Create and increase awareness of the right to health in Kenya by:
    • increasing understanding and respect for human rights in our communities, including building recognition that everyone has a responsibility to respect the rights of others;
    • empowering people to make the connection between what human rights are and how they apply to everyday life especially in relation to health;
    • enabling health sector stakeholders at national and county levels to advocate for equity in access to promotive, preventive, and curative health care services; and
    • enhancing the capacity of civil society organisations (CSOs) in designing and implementing rights-based approach (RBA) health programmes in Kenya.
  2. Undertake evidence-based advocacy for health system strengthening at national and county levels by:
    • providing leadership on rights-based advocacy;
    • influencing timely review, development, and implementation of laws, policies, and guidelines at national and county levels through networking, partnerships, and collaboration; and
    • providing platforms for CSOs to engage with policymakers at national and county levels in development and implementation of health sector legislation, policies, strategies, and guidelines.
  3. Work to strengthen community participation in health sector governance by:
    • strengthening the capacity of people and motivating them to take up their essential role in health care delivery by empowering them to take charge of improving their own health;
    • empowering citizens to assess, analyse, plan, implement, and manage health and health-related development issues, so as to enable them to contribute effectively to the country's socio-economic development; and
    • enabling Kenyan communities to demand their rights and seek accountability from both the national and county health systems for the efficiency and effectiveness of health services.
  4. Promote an efficient and sustainable healthcare financing system by:
    • engaging in development and implementation of health financing strategies at national and county levels;
    • increasing participation of CSOs in budget making processes including planning, allocation, implementation, and monitoring transparency and accountability in the management of health budgets at national and county levels;
    • engaging with financing initiatives which are being implemented in the health sector, especially the Health Sector Services Fund (HSSF), Out-Put-Based Approach (OBA), and Joint Program of Work and funding (JPWF); and
    • monitoring the adherence to the Paris Principles by all the stakeholders, the government, and donor countries and agencies.
  5. Conduct institutional development of HERAF systems for delivery of the organisational mandate by:
    • maintaining a diverse workplace that reflects and respects the diversity of the Kenyan people; and
    • continually developing internal structures and capacity to manage HERAF affairs effectively.

Examples of HERAF projects, concluded and ongoing, include:

  • Advocating for Constitution Implementation in Kenya's Health Sector - "The promulgation of the constitution of Kenya on 27th August, 2010 was a major milestone towards the realization of the highest attainable standard of health for every Kenyan....Towards this end civil society and citizen participation in development and implementation of the Constitution ranging from the Bill of Rights to the far reaching devolution of the government in health sector is fundamental for the realization of right to health. Unfortunately, their levels of awareness on rights and responsibilities envisioned in the New Constitution, development and implementation of laws and policy frameworks required by the Constitution is weak or completely absent. It is on this premise that this project was established....The project has two actions Amkeni wa Kenya and Health Policy Action Fund (HPAF)."
  • Monitoring Health Services Delivery, Budgetary and Management of Health Funds - Supported by the Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA) and The Open Society Public Health Program's Accountability and Monitoring in Health Initiative (AMHI), this project seeks to support community members in monitoring health services delivery, budgets, and management of devolved public health funds in Kenya's health facilities. The project is expected to generate citizens' report cards on availability, accessibility, affordability and quality of health care services in four dispensaries (level 2), four health centres (level 3), and two district hospitals (level 4).
  • Increasing Family Planning Programme Budget Allocation and Utilization in Kenya - This project is supported by Population Action International (PAI) to advocate for increased budget allocation and effective utilisation of funds for family planning programmes (FP) in Kenya. This will be achieved by conducting budget analysis and calling on the government to increase budget and expenditure for FP commodities, including contraceptives and other medical supplies, so as to address frequent stock-outs and therefore improve access to FP and other reproductive health services in Kenya.
  • Institutional Strengthening Project - HERAF is one of 10 CSOs in the health sector in Kenya who is a beneficiary of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) FANIKISHA project, which aims to build the capacity of national-level CSOs and NGOs to provide sustainable leadership in the delivery of the community response for the sustained health and well-being of all Kenyans. In implementing the project, HERAF will work to strengthen its systems through internal restructuring and development, review, and operationalising of various documents as informed by international standards. Amongst the goals: playing a more strategic role in advocacy in the health sector in Kenya at the county and national levels; broadening the scope of operations geographically through strengthening the institutional capacity of affiliates in various county regions for a better and more responsive community health system; engaging with a larger number of diversified stakeholders to amplify the voice of civil society in the health sector in Kenya; working directly with organisations at the community level for better community health response; and increasing partnerships between donors and CSOs in enhancing the realisation of the right to health in Kenya as per the Article 43 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
  • Health Sector Management and Governance (HSMG) - HERAF as a partner of Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) won a competitive accountable grant from the European Union (EU), whose purpose was to: i) strengthen the capacity of grassroots communities to hold the health sector governance structures accountable in implementing rights-based approach to health care programmes at district and community levels; ii) empower the District Health Management Boards to represent the interests of the community in the implementation of health sector programmes at the district level; iii) improve health service delivery by empowering communities to monitor the quality of the health services provided and demand quality services; and iv) advocate for transparency and accountability in planning, budgeting, allocation, and management of resources allocated to community-based health facilities to effectively deal with prevailing disease conditions.
Development Issues: 

Health, Rights

See video

Global Health Workforce Alliance website and HERAF website, both accessed on January 28 2014; and email from HERAF to The Communication Initiative on January 29 2014.