Inclusion and human rights in health policies: comparative and benchmarking analysis of 51 policies from Malawi, Sudan, South Africa and Namibia

PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e35864. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035864. Epub 2012 May 23.


While many health services strive to be equitable, accessible and inclusive, peoples' right to health often goes unrealized, particularly among vulnerable groups. The extent to which health policies explicitly seek to achieve such goals sets the policy context in which services are delivered and evaluated. An analytical framework was developed--EquiFrame--to evaluate 1) the extent to which 21 Core Concepts of human rights were addressed in policy documents, and 2) coverage of 12 Vulnerable Groups who might benefit from such policies. Using this framework, analysis of 51 policies across Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Sudan, confirmed the relevance of all Core Concepts and Vulnerable Groups. Further, our analysis highlighted some very strong policies, serious shortcomings in others as well as country-specific patterns. If social inclusion and human rights do not underpin policy formation, it is unlikely they will be inculcated in service delivery. EquiFrame facilitates policy analysis and benchmarking, and provides a means for evaluating policy revision and development.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Benchmarking
  • Health Policy*
  • Human Rights / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Malawi
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Namibia
  • Policy Making
  • South Africa
  • Sudan