17 July 2017

Zimbabwe: Like Mugabe, 1924 Public Health Act Must Go - Say MPs

Photo: The Herald
Zimbabwe parliament (file photo).

Parliament has petitioned government for an "urgent review" of the Public Health Act to enable patients to sue the authorities if their health rights are infringed.

The 1924 Public Health Act has not been reviewed despite medical and technological changes that have taken place in the sector over the years.

The statute does not empower patients to sue government or hospitals if their right to health is infringed.

Ruth Labode, chair of the parliamentary committee on health, said "just like what everyone is saying that President Robert must go, the Act must also go" because it is out dated.

She was giving an update on what the committee has done to push for a review of legislation to reporters in Harare last Friday.

"We play a role of representation and when we go to the constituencies and communities whom we represent especially during constituency meetings, questions that come out and which continue to come out are that they do not have accurate information on their right to health," said the MDC-T MP for Matabeleland South.

"Some, for example, would say we went to a health institution and there were no drugs or a nurse said I must pay to be treated for tuberculosis.

"There is no law that says that the patient can sue that nurse, and the fact that the Public Health Act has not been reviewed actually infringes on people's rights," she said.

Health and Child Care, Secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji, said cabinet had acknowledged receipt of parliament's request for a review of the legislation.

"What the minister now awaits is to be invited by cabinet to make a formal presentation and that is now a process which is not in my jurisdiction," he said.

"Generally, when you get this confirmation it takes a week or two for you to be invited by cabinet to make a presentation so we are looking forward to being invited soon," said Dr Gwinji.

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