Lobby for 24-hr clinics taken to Parliament

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

PARLIAMENT has referred a petition by Bulawayo activist Khumbulani Maphosa requesting that council clinics operate 24 hours daily to the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care for deliberations, Southern Eye has learnt.

Maphosa has since 2018 been pushing the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to review the operating times for its clinics from 8am-3pm to 24 hours daily.

Maphosa argued the 3pm closing time denies the general public access to emergency health care services, and is an assault on the right to health and a violation of section 76(3) of the country’s Constitution.

BCC, however, has repeatedly shot down the request, citing staff shortages due to an employment freeze triggered by a biting financial squeeze. However, this did not deter Maphosa, who last month petitioned Parliament for recourse.

“I wish to advise the House that on August 15, 2019, Parliament of Zimbabwe received a petition from Mr K Maphosa of Pelandaba West, beseeching Parliament to protect the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of Zimbabweans to basic health services by recommending that all local clinics in Zimbabwe open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including public holidays, for primary health care services.

“The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care,” Senate president Marble Chinomona said on August 28.

Ruth Labode, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health, told Southern Eye yesterday that the committee intended to summon Maphosa “to clarify certain issues”.

“We are summoning Maphosa to come forward as we need to clarify certain issues because there are some clinics in other parts of the country which operate 24 hours per day,” Labode said.

The BCC operates 19 clinics and one infectious disease hospital in Thorngroove suburb, with Mahatshula and Lobengula clinics being leased out owing to staff shortages.

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