ZLHR urges government to promptly address grievances raised by medical practitioners

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is concerned by the failure by the Government of Zimbabwe to speedily resolve the ongoing strike by doctors and some nurses at public hospitals.

Medical doctors working at state-run hospitals have been on strike in recent weeks and have now been
joined by nurses at some health institutions who are protesting against poor salaries and unfavourable
working conditions.

The government’s reluctance and failure to resolve the impasse has compounded problems for stranded
patients at the country’s public-run hospitals while violating citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right to health care enshrined in section 76 of the Constitution and the right to life provided in section 48 of the Constitution.

ZLHR is concerned that the continued industrial action by medical professionals will gravely compromise access to health care for the most vulnerable among the populace who cannot afford alternative service providers.

The government has been slow in responding to the legitimate concerns raised by doctors and nurses. It is worrying that for several years, the government has not fully addressed the serious consequences brought about by the unprecedented exodus of health professionals in search of greener pastures due to the same concerns which are being raised by nurses and doctors now.

The state has a responsibility to ensure that citizens’ rights to health care is not compromised and should immediately implement measures to resolve the impasse. We hold the Government of Zimbabwe,
particularly the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Health Services Board responsible and liable for the depressing situation obtaining at the state-run hospitals, the unavailability of services at these institutions and any attendant loss of life.

It is imperative that the state takes urgent action to resolve the dire situation at the country’s public hospitals.

ZLHR recommends that;

• The Government of Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Health Services
Board acknowledges the extent of the problem and robustly respond to the concerns raised by doctors and other medical professionals;
• The state fulfills its social and economic rights obligations as set out in national and international law in order to guarantee realisation of the right to health care and the right to human dignity for all its citizens;
• The government must increase funding allocation to the health sector and strive to allocate 15% to
health as stipulated in the Abuja Declaration in order to enhance the quality of life of citizens;

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