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Medical Services Amendment Bill weak: Veritas

Medical Services Amendment Bill weak: Veritas

BY PRIVELEDGE GUMBODETE LEGAL think-tank Veritas has poked holes into the proposed Medical Services Amendment Bill saying its provisions will not improve the country’s healthcare services.

The Medical Services Amendment Bill seeks to align the Medical Services Act with the Constitution, and to expand the scope of the Act to cover services provided by all healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses and other health practitioners, as well as hospitals, surgeries, clinics and health institutions.

In its latest online Bill Watch publication, Veritas said the Medical Services Amendment Bill lacked clarity in certain provisions.

“There are some defects in the Bill, which we have pointed out, mainly that it lacks clarity in certain provisions. The Bill also defines the terms  ‘basic healthcare’ and ‘reproductive healthcare’, which are not used anywhere in the Bill or the Act.

“It should be noted here that the Act does not deal specifically with maternal healthcare or reproductive healthcare, and in view of the high maternal death rate in Zimbabwe it probably should do so.

“It will not, however, lead to improved healthcare: That will entail rehabilitating our hospitals, clinics and health institutions and increasing the professionalism of our healthcare providers — all of which will require money — which we don’t have,” Veritas said.

Last month, during the mid-term budget review, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube allocated the Health ministry an additional $62 billion on top of the initial $177 billion provided in the 2022 budget. However, health experts adjudged the supplementary budget as inadequate to resuscitate the country’s ailing health delivery system.

The Bill criminalises parents who prevent their children from receiving medical treatment, or withhold their consent to such treatment.

“The new section will give effect to section 60(3) of the Constitution, but if parents are prosecuted for this crime the courts may have to make difficult decisions about what is in the best interests of children, weighing the opinions of parents against current medical orthodoxy,” Veritas added.

The Bill is currently being considered by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care before people air their views during public hearings.

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