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call to the new government of Zimbabwe to prioritize the right to
health and clean water
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR)
September 12, 2013
Association of Doctors for Human Rights seizes this opportunity
to remind the newly
sworn in government and Parliament of Zimbabwe as the duty bearers
to place priority on the right to healthcare as enshrined in the
of Zimbabwe at Chapter 4, Sections 76 and 77. While it is plausible
and commendable to note that the right to healthcare is now part
of our constitution, it is important for government officials to
bear it mind in that human rights are indivisible, interdependent
and mutually reinforcing. As such, the entire bill of rights in
the new constitution must be read to the effect that all the other
rights in the new constitution exist to reinforce the right to healthcare.
The other ancillary rights such as the right to food and clean water
are useful in ensuring good health and the provision of adequate
healthcare. As a nation we have to work together for the collective
good and appreciation that respect for human rights and peace are
essential for the realisation of the highest attainable standard
of physical and mental health. In light of the above, it is important
for the new government to ensure that it respects, protects and
fulfills the right to healthcare:
Right to Health in the Zimbabwe Constitution
of Zimbabwe guarantees the rights to health at section 76 where
it states that:
Right to health care
1) Every citizen
and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has the right to have access
to basic health-care services, including reproductive health-care
2) Every person living with a chronic illness has the right to have
access to basic healthcare services for the illness.
person may be refused emergency medical treatment in any health-care
State must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within
the limits of the resources available to it, to achieve the progressive
realisation of the rights set out in this section.
Right to food and water
has the right to-
(a) safe, clean
and potable water; and
and the State
must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within the
limits of the resources available to it, to achieve the progressive
realisation of this right.
obligations at international and regional level
Declaration of Human Rights states that, "every human being
has right to the well-being of himself and of his family, including
food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services,
and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness,
disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances
beyond his control". The constitution of Zimbabwe also guarantees
these rights. There is need to translate these rights into a reality
for the people of Zimbabwe.
In terms of
Article 16 of the African
Banjul Charter on Human and People's Rights, "Every individual
shall have the right to enjoy the best attainable state of physical
and mental health" and that "States parties to the present
Charter shall take the necessary measures to protect the health
of their people and to ensure that they receive medical attention
when they are sick".
In pursuit of
the obligations in the Abuja Declaration of 2001 in which Heads
of States and Governments of African countries met and pledged to
set aside 15% of their annual budgets to improve the health sector,
Zimbabwe must follow through with this commitment and ensure that
at least 15% of the national budget is committed to the health sector.
and mutually reinforcing
It is important
for the government of Zimbabwe to realize that the right to health
cannot be achieved through the provision of health services and
healthcare alone. It also depends on the realization of other human
rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and other International
instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human
rights are by their nature complementary and mutually reinforcing.
The right to health cannot exist in the absence of other rights.
- The government
of Zimbabwe must engage and deepen relations with the private
sector, the international community and donor institutions in
efforts aimed at intensifying the progressive realisation of the
highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
- The government
of Zimbabwe should engage in pro-poor planning which offers welfare
support for the poor. Policy planning and implementation on the
right to health must be all inclusive and participatory with community
involvement, ownership and accountability for health being major
components of Zimbabwe's health policies.
- The government
of Zimbabwe is also encouraged to renew its efforts in seeking
to achieve the commitments in the Millennium Declaration. Priority
must be given to health related Millennium Development Goals.
In particular priority must be given to;
Development Goal Number 4 - Reduce child mortality
The government must continue its sterling efforts in seeking to
reduce by two-thirds the mortality rate among children under five.
While significant gains have been realized in this area, a lot needs
to be done to ensure significant reduction of child mortality.
Development Goal 5 - Improve maternal health
Many women continue to die during childbirth in Zimbabwe and most
deliveries are not done in safe maternal institutions because of
poverty. The government must ensure affordable or free maternal
services throughout Zimbabwe. Further, priority should also be given
to cervical cancer through increasing access to information and
cancer screening centers. Zimbabwean women have one of the highest
recorded age-standardized rates of cervical cancer in the world
(67 per 100,000), with less than 5% cervical cancer screening coverage
(National Health Strategy).
Development Goal 6 - Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other Diseases
a. There is need for the government to scale up provision of Anti-Retroviral
treatment. Currently there is a huge deficit with only 350 000 currently
receiving ART against the huge backdrop of over 1, 2 million people
who are in need of the life saving drugs. While there has been a
steady decline in the revalence of HIV/AIDS, there is need to maintain
the trend of reduction and focus on the realization of, "Zero
Infections. Zero Deaths. Zero Discrimination".
must also ensure:
- Access to
adequate clean water by all citizens of Zimbabwe;
- Public hospitals
and clinics are stocked with adequate and affordable medication;
medical personnel, with motivating working conditions, are recruited
and placed in medical institutions throughout the country to rid
the health sector of the workforce deficit reported in many public
health institutions throughout the country;
- Food and
food assistance is given to the poor and marginalized members
of our Zimbabwean society. Many Zimbabweans are facing the scourge
of poverty, hunger and famine.
By and large
the ZADHR firmly believes that the sustenance of the Health Transition
Fund will continue to create a pool of resources necessary for financing
health programmes of the Ministry of Health and Child Care. In so
doing, the government, as a duty bearer, should also supplement
the Health Transition Fund by channeling a portion of the revenue
realized from our own natural resources towards investing in the
health of the people.
Visit the Zimbabwe
Association of Doctors for Human Rights fact
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