BY NHAU MANGIRAZI
FOR the first time since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 the Parliament of Zimbabwe on Monday visited Tegwe, a business centre in Hurungwe East in Mashonaland West province, for a public hearing on the Medical Services Amendment Bill.
During the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care, and the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on HIV and Aids, members of the rural community urged government to ensure the country had cheap, affordable medication and well-remunerated health personnel to avert a health crisis.
Hurungwe East junior MP Makanaka Makoshori said the Bill must ensure that children under 18 years of age enjoy access to health rights, especially sexual and reproductive health services because farming communities have some of the highest rates of child pregnancies.
‘‘Our health facilities must be improved with medication. We are witnessing a surge in early child marriages and some children do not access medication for sexually transmitted infections. Most of these young girls get infected with HIV and Aids at an early age and must get free medication. Health access is a civil right for everyone including children. We call on the government to speed up crafting of the Bill to ensure that it becomes law soon,” Makoshori said.
Another contributor, Richard Kuizanga said the Bill must have clauses that stipulate access to medication in emergency cases.
“Rural farming areas have no access to medication, oxygen and other medical equipment at their health facilities. The road network must also be improved to ensure access to health centres,” Kuizanga said.
Gerald Matsika said there was need to ensure that clinics and hospitals have the necessary medication, instead of just writing prescriptions for patients to purchase medicines at pharmacies.
“People have no money to purchase medicines at private pharmacies and this has resulted in several deaths,” Matsika said.
Advocacy Core Team representative Diana Mailos called for improvement of working conditions for health workers.
“Section 8(b) of the Medical Services Amendment Bill proposes that one must have legal capacity to give informed consent when seeking health services. Informed consent should not require legal capacity, but the capacity and maturity to understand the relevant facts about the health services being sought, readiness, related risks, and available alternatives,” Mailos said.
A former soldier, Mike Dube said the Bill should have clauses that stipulate that war veterans must access free medication.
Health and Child Care Portfolio Committee acting chairperson Goodluck Kwaramba said the Medical Services Amendment Bill seeks to ensure access to medication for the elderly, war veterans, children and people with disabilities as well as make sure that health issues are aligned with the Constitution.
Parliament will gather views on the Bill from different parts of the country.
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