‘Withdraw Health Services Amendment Bill’

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Norman Matara

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
DOCTORS yesterday warned Parliament that the Health Services Amendment Bill will negatively impact the country’s ailing health sector as it seeks to prosecute health workers instead of capacitating them with resources to effectively perform their work.

This came out during a meeting between doctors and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health to discuss the Bill. The meeting was held in Harare and was organised by the Southern Africa Parliamentary Support Trust.

The proposed Health Services Amendment Bill has been widely condemned by health professionals as it seeks to curtail health workers’ right to strike.

Parliament Building in central Harare

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights secretary Norman Matara told MPs that the Bill had a number of anomalies such as the creation of the Health Services Commission which is not an independent commission as they had envisaged.

“It is not an independent commission as we envisaged. It does not seem to be able to address the challenges affecting the health sector as its decision-making power is hamstrung by the fact that it reports to the Executive,” Matara said.

“The Executive is an interested party in any discussion on conditions of service. The State is arming itself against its employees by having rights to prosecute personnel without a concomitant obligation to ensure that its workers are not incapacitated at work by resource constraints,” he said.

Matara said the Bill would compound the existing challenges in the health sector relating to poor remuneration, dilapidated infrastructure, lack of equipment and brain drain.

Outgoing president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association Tawanda Zvakada said: “This Bill should not see the light of day in its totality, as it may force health professionals into accepting unsatisfactory conditions of service.”

Senior Hospital Doctors Association president Shingai Nyaguse said: “In its current form, this Bill must not pass; there is still need for an independent commission which is empowered to solve the problems affecting the Health sector once and for all.”

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care Ruth Labode said the Bill was rejected by health workers when Parliament subject it to public hearings recently.

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care Ruth Labode

“The Health Services Commission itself was rejected because people wanted it to be independent.  If health workers are essential services, they should be well remunerated and get a package that is different from others,” Labode said.

Hwange Central MP Daniel Molokela said there was need to write to the Health ministry asking it to withdraw the Bill.

Daniel Molokela

“Parliament wasted a lot of resources through travelling across the country only to gather views with the same choruses that the Bill is unwanted.

“We need to raise a strong injection with Cabinet to say that when you are initiating Bills, the first thing is to consult stakeholders and not to rush it to Parliament for crafting,” Molokela said.

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