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Doctors Blast Health Service Amendment Bill

Health workers have condemned the Health Services Amendment Bill saying it will negatively impact the already struggling health sector instead of improving it.

The proposed Health Services Amendment Bill has been widely condemned by health professionals as it seeks to curtail health workers’ right to strike.

In a meeting between parliamentariants and health workers, Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights secretary Norman Matara told Members of Parliament that the Bill had a number of anomalies such as the creation of the Health Services Commission which is not an independent commission as they had envisaged.

“It is not an independent commission as we envisaged. It does not seem to be able to address the challenges affecting the health sector as its decision-making power is hamstrung by the fact that it reports to the Executive,” Matara said.

“The Executive is an interested party in any discussion on conditions of service. The State is arming itself against its employees by having rights to prosecute personnel without a concomitant obligation to ensure that its workers are not incapacitated at work by resource constraints,” he said.

Matara said the Bill would compound the existing challenges in the health sector relating to poor remuneration, dilapidated infrastructure, lack of equipment and brain drain.

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Outgoing president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association Tawanda Zvakada said: “This Bill should not see the light of day in its totality, as it may force health professionals into accepting unsatisfactory conditions of service.”

Senior Hospital Doctors Association president Shingai Nyaguse said: “In its current form, this Bill must not pass; there is still need for an independent commission which is empowered to solve the problems affecting the Health sector once and for all.”

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care Ruth Labode said the Bill was rejected by health workers when Parliament subjected it to public hearings recently.

“The Health Services Commission itself was rejected because people wanted it to be independent.  If health workers are essential services, they should be well remunerated and get a package that is different from others,” Labode said.

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