By Watmore Makokoba
ZimRights, a member based human rights association has presented a petition to the Government of Zimbabwe admonishing it to act swiftly in addressing critical issue derailing the health sector.
Chief among the concerns includes health workers remuneration, delivery system and revising the current heath budget to be in sync with the impending needs of the sector.
Reading out the petition during The Global Day of Action for Rights to Health commemoration held at Africa Unity Square in Harare on the 25th of October 2014, the Director of ZimRights Mr Okay Machisa said the timely petition comes at a time when politicians have sidelined the health concerns of the general people prioritising political interests.
“It is good for politicians to fight for political power, but also vital for them to prioritise human rights for instance the right to basic health. Politicians have neglected the people giving preference to political ambitions”
“We are therefore calling on the Government to commit itself to ensure equal accessible, affordable and adequate health facilities to all especially to the grassroots level,” Machisa sad.
The call comes amid reports of doctor’s strikes, dilapidated health facilities hampering service delivery in most public hospitals and clinics, escalating health service fees and the inaccessibility to critical health services like cervical cancer screening especially by the rural grassroots people.
The Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights Dr Rutendo Bonde who was special guest on the event implored the urgent need for the government to address the major issues affecting the health sector before the impending tragic health disaster balloons into a costly catastrophe.
“It is imperative for the government to urgently address the issues negatively affecting the health sector in order to ensure all the general public access equitable and accessible health facilities before the time bomb explodes, these include urgently addressing the striking Doctors concerns, adequate health sector budget allocation, improving of quality service delivery including social delivery system”. Dr Bonde Said
She further lamented the lack of political will exhibited by the failure by government officials to attend such an event when citizens where speaking out on critical issues affecting them everyday.
Dr Bonde said state of roads, and communications networks especially in rural areas were also hampering effective health delivery system and reiterated to revise the budget threshold for the health system to be revised upwards.
“The state of our roads ,clinics and communication networks especially in remote rural areas and even the budget allocation of about 8% of the national budget is a far cry and therefore calls for a sustainable funding for the viability of the health sector”, She said.
Major issue highlighted by the petition include the admonishing of the government to take concrete measures to against communicable and non communicable diseases, make maternal health care a priority,prioritise the screening of cervical cancer at all health institutions, ensure availability of specialist doctors at all provincial hospitals,capacitate the anti-corruption commission and other institutions such as Parliament of Zimbabwe so that they perform their oversight role without any hindrance from the executive.
Another issue for concern was the government preparedness for an eventuality of the pandemic Ebola Virus that had killed more than 4000 people in western Africa.
In an interview with 263Chat, The Depute Minister for the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Dr Paul Chimedza said the government of Zimbabwe’s preparedness on any eventuality of the outbreak of Ebola is above board and lamented improper information circulating on social media platforms alleging unverified Ebola outbreaks in some parts of the country.
“As far as preparedness and precautionary measures are concerned I want to put the message correct, so far there is no confirmed Ebola outbreak in Zimbabwe, our borders and health centers are secured with a robust system to screen and deal with any eventuality of the Ebola case, the government is working with organisations like World Health Organization (WHO) and others on the matter,
“We are embarking on health practitioners training and workshops to raise more awareness in all the districts and provinces to be on high alert”.
However the minister could not give much on the stage of the reported strike by doctors who are demanding a remuneration review among other issues, saying the issue was on the negotiating table with the relevant authorities.
“I am not in a position to give details and comment on the issue of doctors strike because as of now, the issue is on the negotiation table with respective relevant authorities,” said Dr Chimedza
In his key address on the opening of Second Session of the Eighth Parliament yesterday, His Excellency Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe indicated the tabling to parliament for debate the Public Health Bill hopefully the passing of this bill will be equally swift to bring sanity to the health sector.
The petition which was signed by more than hundred people who attended the ceremony is reported to have been handed over to His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, relevant ministries, local authorities, public institutions and the Anti-corruption Commissions.