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HIV-positive people want constitutional rights
February 04, 2010
in Zimbabwe have launched a major drive to ensure that the rights
of people living with HIV are enshrined in the new constitution.
Political Agreement signed in September 2008 between Zimbabwe's
various political rivals, which gave rise to the coalition government
in February 2009, includes writing the new constitution expected
to be introduced in 2010.
not calling for a token participation, but significant and meaningful
involvement that will go a long way in promoting our welfare and
rights when the constitution is adopted," Tonderai Chiduku,
advocacy coordinator of Zimbabwe
National Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (ZNPP+),
Africa AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAFAIDS), a regional
non-profit AIDS organisation, also met recently to map out how HIV-positive
people could participate in the constitution-making process. Country
Representative Monica Mandiki noted that the current constitution
did not have any explicit reference to the right to healthcare,
and was "silent on HIV".
ZNNP+ are calling for a bill of rights that would promote better
access to health services. An estimated two million people are living
with HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe, one of the countries hardest hit by HIV/AIDS,
but have never before been actively involved in such legislation
and do not have representation in parliament, Chiduku said.
the two million people living with HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe continue
to face grave challenges in accessing treatment, social services,
basic healthcare, education and other socio-economic rights, it
is important to highlight the need for an expanded Bill of Rights
in the new constitution, with provisions on non-discrimination and
equal protection before the law," ZNNP+ said in a recent statement.
have also urged policy-makers to include a clause that would commit
the government to spending a minimum of 10 percent to 15 percent
of the national budget on healthcare, Mandiki told IRIN/PlusNews.
But the odds
of getting their voices heard are slim. "The fact that we don't
have decision-makers in the process militates against us, because
there is no guarantee that those that form the bulk of the leadership
and steering teams [writing the constitution] will be sensitive
to our needs," Chiduku admitted.
also calls for the constitution to provide prisoners with "free
and uninterrupted antiretroviral therapy, adequate food, and access
to qualified medical professionals by the state, as the need arises".
ZNNP+ will be holding policy dialogues throughout Zimbabwe to collect
the views of networks of people living with HIV, which will be included
in a national document to be presented to the committee heading
the constitution-making process.
our main hope is to be given more representation in the process
of writing the new constitution, we will push to ensure that the
views of people living with HIV and AIDS ... [are heard],"
said Chiduku. "We cannot leave anything to chance because the
constitution defines the laws that affect us."
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