Health experts call for independent commission

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The call came as the country commemorated World Health Day and World Health Worker Week.

BY KUDAKWASHE TAGWIREYI/CATHRINE MUCHIRI HEALTH experts yesterday called for the setting up of an independent health services commission to ensure workers’ concerns are resolved without bias.

The call came as the country commemorated World Health Day and World Health Worker Week.

“Health workers are caught in the middle of a system that is slow to respond to their needs and ethical pressures not to take collective job action,” Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said.

“We urge the government to set up an independent health services commission to address the glaring management and governance issues and ensure that the employer of choice for all health workers is the central government as obtained in the past.”

Senior Hospital Doctors Association president Shingai Nyaguse said an independent commission might be necessary as government had failed to address concerns of health workers.

“In terms of security, there is no financial security, hence the massive exodus we are seeing. The formal workers are struggling to earn a living wage, so it is very difficult for the system to acknowledge and address the unpaid work of women,” Nyaguse said.

In a statement, the Frontline Health Workers Coalition and the World Health Organisation said there was need to invest enough in competence-based education in health, address health workers’ security concerns, and subsidise healthcare.

In its submissions on the Health Services Amendment Bill to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said the commission “contemplated by the Bill is an Executive commission”.

“It is not an independent commission as we envisaged. It does not seem able to address the challenges besetting the health sector as its decision-making powers are hamstrung by its reportage to the Executive. The Executive is the employers of public health personnel and, therefore, an interested party in any discussions on conditions of service,” the rights doctors said.

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