Zimbabwean doctors issue call to their new government to prioritize health

September 23, 2013

Last month, IFHHRO member ZADHR (Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights) wrote an open letter to the new government of Zimbabwe to prioritize the right to health care and to clean water.

In the call, ZADHR reminds the newly sworn in government and Parliament of Zimbabwe that, “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.” Further, “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.”

Pro-poor planning

According to the association of doctors the government of Zimbabwe should engage in pro-poor planning which offers welfare support for the poor. It should also make sure that policy planning and implementation on the right to health are all-inclusive and participatory. Priority must be given to health-related Millennium Development Goals, including those focusing on the reduction of child mortality, the improvement of maternal health and the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

In particular, the government should do more to increase access to anti-retroviral treatment, since only one-third of people in need of life-saving HIV medicines currently receive them. Further, the government must ensure access to adequate clean water, adequate and affordable medication, trained and well-motivated medical personnel, and food assistance for the poor.

“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.”

Read the full-text call