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‘Engage religious sects in health programmes’

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THE Sadc Parliamentary Forum committee on sexual reproductive health rights wants traditional healers and religious groups to end the practice of stopping their followers from taking life-saving medication under the guise that they have been healed spiritually.

SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER

This was revealed on Tuesday in the National Assembly by Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese (MDC-T) when he presented a motion on the first report of the 35th Plenary Assembly of the Sadc Parliamentary Forum.

The motion, which was seconded by Proportional Representation MP Jasmine Toffa (MDC Ncube), noted that funding should be secured to engage traditional leaders and religious groups who engaged in such practices.

“Some of the recommendations by Sadc Parliamentary Forum included that funding should be secured to engage traditional healers, religious groupings and parliamentarians to discuss the plight of individuals who discontinue life-saving medication on account of religious or traditional beliefs,” said Gonese.

“Sadc PF also agreed there was need for innovative financing of HIV and Aids programmes to permanently feature on the agenda of the forum, as well as that the forum should unequivocally commit itself to implementing the sexual reproductive health rights, HIV/Aids and governance programmes to attain equitable universal access to services, improved health and respect for human rights.”

In Zimbabwe, Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa recently warned preachers against ordering people to stop taking medication for HIV, diabetes and other malignant diseases after pronouncing that they were healed.

Parirenyatwa said it was high time such practices were criminalised.

Gonese said the Sadc Parliamentary Forum was also looking at modalities to form a regional Sadc Parliament.

“The Sadc region is the only one in Africa which does not have a regional Parliament. We simply have a forum, not a Parliament and a memorandum of understanding was signed by the secretary of the forum and the executive secretary to transform the forum into a fully-fledged regional Parliament,” he said.

Lack of funding was said to be one of the main causes of failure to transform Sadc Parliamentary Forum into a regional Parliament because member states failed to pay subscriptions on time.

Toffa said it was agreed that issues of de-industrialisation in Africa should be addressed as they were the main drivers of poverty, as well as to address issues of gender parity.

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