Retail pharmacists who petitioned Parliament to amend the Public Health Act for all professionals in the health sector to be considered for top administrative posts in Government, misdirected themselves as their petition did not put into consideration other pieces of legislation that guide appointment to the posts, Vice President Chiwenga has said.
Giving oral evidence to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care, VP Chiwenga who is also Health Minister, said a public health qualification does not permit all health professionals to hold the positions of permanent secretary or provincial and district health officers in the ministry.
“The public health qualification does not qualify one to treat patients as it is only meant to equip health care professionals with the preventive aspects of health services,” he said.
“The petitioners appear not to be aware that the Public Health Act is only one of the pieces of legislation governing the health care system.
“The petitioners have misdirected themselves and further exposed their lack of understanding of the technical and legal framework that governs the appointment to posts of permanent secretary.”
In March, retail pharmacists petitioned Parliament to amend the Act for them to be considered for posts such as permanent secretaries in the Ministry of Health.
They said the Public Health Act of 1924 recognised medical doctors as the only health professionals considered for administrative posts in the ministry despite the fact that other health professionals also played an important role in the healthcare delivery system.
However, VP Chiwenga said the Public Health Act recognised that the appointment of provincial and district health officers should be conducted by the Health Services Board in terms of the Health Service Act and through a competitive process.
He said the post of permanent secretary was a constitutional appointment in terms of section 205 of the Constitution and none of the positions alluded to in the pharmacists’ petition were appointed in terms of the Public Health Act.
“The Medical Services Act is the Act that ensures the provision and maintenance of comprehensive hospital services in Zimbabwe. Hospital services are all about patients seeking consultation, diagnosis and treatment.
“Patients in hospitals belong to a medical practitioner who is looking after them.
“Therefore, the permanent secretary and his team of chief director curative services, provincial and district medical officers are ultimately accountable for the patients in hospitals, both public and private as recognised by the Medical Services Act,” said VP Chiwenga.
He said the three were technical posts responsible for the treatment of patients as indicated by the Medical Health Act.
The core function of medical practitioners because of their training certification and licensing, said VP Chiwenga, was to treat patients while pharmacists dispense the medicines as prescribed by the medical practitioners.