BY PRECIOUS CHIDA
ZIMBABWE Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has urged the government to desist from using lockdown measures for political expediency.
This comes at a time the government has put in place punitive measures to restrain people from moving around except essential service workers, a move which is suspected to be aimed at stopping the July 31 protests against President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“As ZADHR, we continue to reiterate that the lockdown measures should not be used for political expediency, but for the furtherance of the public health agenda,” ZADHR said in a statement released yesterday.
ZADHR said the fight against the deadly pandemic did not need the stringent conditions imposed by the government rather there was only need for expansion in testing and contact tracing and widespread community education on COVID-19 preventive measures.
ZADHR added: “We note that despite the lessons learnt in the initial response, the government has proceeded to reinstate the same measures without paying due attention to factors that led to numerous cases of people violating the lockdown restrictions, such as the lack of a strong, efficient and responsive social safety programme for the poor.”
Following an announcement by police that more documentation was needed for members of the public to pass through roadblock checkpoints, ZADHR said it was against the demand for medical information as it violated the right of citizens to privacy.
“We also note a Press statement by the ZRP on July 25, 2020 on documents required at roadblock checkpoints. Under medical resupplies, the police require citizens to provide their medical cards and contact details of their doctor, but as ZADHR, we reiterate that medical documents such as prescriptions and medical cards are private and confidential documents,” it said.
“Patients have a right to privacy of medical information and the police have no right to access these confidential documents, unless directed by a court of law. We acknowledge the need to restrict unnecessary movement of citizens, but such important measures need to be taken while upholding basic rights of citizens.”
ZADHR said it was also concerned about a growing trend where health professionals were testing positive to the coronavirus, and the majority of these cases were attributable to exposure at the workplace due to lack of personal protective equipment.
Yesterday, health workers at the Avenues Clinic in Harare downed tools saying their employer was not taking any measures to protect them and to contact trace as 10 of their colleagues had tested positive.
Other reports have also indicated that over 200 health workers have tested positive countrywide.