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Health Service Amendment Bill ‘Undemocratic’

Social and economic justice advocacy group, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) has decried the Health Service Amendment Bill saying it is not addressing challenges being faced in the health sector.

According to the government, the bill seeks to align the Health Service Act to the Constitution. This will be attained by designating the Health Service as a Commission and provide for the functions of such Commission. The Bill also discusses the parameters of collective job action by the Health Service personnel.

In a monthly compilation for March, ZIMCODD said there is need for commitment by the Government to address grievances by health professionals.

“The intention of the Bill is problematic because it is undemocratic with respect to the right to strike of health employees, but it is also happening in a context where the accumulation of strikes and poor service delivery has had a negative impact on the lives of patients.

“Therefore, to preserve life that is lost during strikes, the bill moved in to regulate the conduct of strike, its nature and period. Nonetheless, in terms of social and economic justice, the Bill is blind as it does not address the challenges being faced by the health sector.

“The creation of the Commission does not bring anything positive with respect to the revitalisation of the health sector as it neglects the underlining dynamics that are militating against optimum health service. These include but not limited to poor remunerations, dilapidating infrastructure, unavailability of medicine and brain drain. The health sector is not in need of an amendment bill as there are numerous policies and legislative frameworks that are already in place. It only needs commitment by the government to address the legitimate concerns of Health Service professionals without undermining fundamental rights and freedoms,” said ZIMCODD.

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The Coalition said the regional key health indicators paint a gloomy picture of Zimbabwe’s health status compared to her neighbors.

“The clearest indicator of the health crisis in Zimbabwe is the ‘maternal mortality ratio per 100 000 live births’: 458 children are dying compared to 119 in South Africa. All the other countries are better ranked on all indicators except Zambia which is the least ranked on ‘nursing and midwifery personnel density’ and ‘under five mortality rate’. Of concern is the ‘medical doctors per 10 000 population’ which is around 50% less compared to neighbors Botswana and Namibia and lesser by 75% of neighbors South Africa and Zambia,” the report read.

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