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MPs demand withdrawal of Health Bill

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BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
MEMBERS of Parliament have demanded that the Health Services Amendment Bill currently before the National Assembly be withdrawn to allow for thorough consultations.

The proposed law, which seeks to align the Health Services Act to the Constitution has been widely criticised for containing provisions that bar health workers from speaking out or engaging in job action.

Clause 5 of the Bill seeks to pronounce the health sector as an essential service.

A report on the Bill presented on Tuesday by Bulawayo MP Jasmine Toffa (CCC Proportional Representation) stated that the proposed law was widely condemned by health professionals because it sought to curtail workers’ right to strike.

This followed public consultations throughout the country led  by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health.

“Clause 3 should clearly stipulate the critical skills that those appointed to be members of the commission should have. Given the overwhelming rejection of the Bill by the interested and affected stakeholders, the Ministry of Health and Child Care should withdraw the Bill and conduct a thorough consultation process with all the interested and affected stakeholders in order to redraft the Bill.

“The committee is of the opinion that a good law must serve the interest of the people and it must be reasonable, and should not be too harsh or rigid,” Toffa said.

The Health Parliamentary Committee recommended that the Health Services Amendment Bill should be recrafted to protect health workers and boost their morale by creating good platforms for negotiations and cordial relations between the employee and the employer.

They said the Bill should create an enabling environment for quality healthcare services in the country.

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