BEITBRIDGE residents on Wednesday took a swipe at a parliamentary committee that seemed in a hurry to leave when people were still eager to raise issues of concern at a public hearing on the Public Health Bill.
BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
The residents also complained about the committee’s poorly advertised meeting and its failure to provide an agenda prior to the sitting.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee of Health and Child Care and the Thematic Committee on HIV and Aids were in Beitbridge to capture public views on the Public Health Bill.
“They [committee] were the only ones holding the copies of the Bill and we did not have it, so what were we to discuss?” a resident asked.
Another resident asked why the committee seemed to rush through the deliberations, saying they had another meeting scheduled for Gwanda.
“If they were in a hurry, they should have not come. They are there for five years yet they can’t give us just a day to discuss with them.”
In an interview after the two-hour meeting, Binga South legislator, Prince Madubeko Sibanda, who chaired the joint sitting, acknowledged the problem, but said his committee had liaised with the local legislator, Senator Tambudzani Mohadi.
“We gave her the agenda and hoped it reached the people,” he said, admitting the meeting was different from Mwenezi, where villagers had been informed and had copies of the Bill under review.
Sibanda, whose committee has already been to Gweru, Zvishavane, Masvingo and Mwenezi, said a common concern was the structure of health services, which seemed to be a preserve for medical practitioners.
“Some people are of the view that even the Health and Child Care minister [David Parirenyatwa] should not necessarily be a doctor. We have heard many people, who feel some nurses are more competent even to be ministers and district or provincial medical directors,” he said.
“The other complaint we received was that existing laws gave the minister of Health and Child Care a lot of power, which was unhealthy,” he said.
Residents criticised the Beitbridge District Hospital staff for closing the casualty ward despite that the town being on the highway to South Africa, where accidents are prevalent.
Another resident felt the HIV clinic should be integrated into the main hospital.
“Currently, it is a unit on its own, which creates stigma from patients who, in turn, feel discriminated against,” said former Beitbridge official Patricia Mbedzi.
Another resident described Beitbridge Hospital as dirty.
Residents also accused doctors of focussing on their private surgeries while neglecting patients at public institutions.
Questions centred mainly on poor service at Beitbridge hospital. Other residents felt the institution should be upgraded to a referral hospital to pave way for more staff deployment.
Residents also suggested that health officials be deployed to tollgates to assist accident victims.