HARARE – The rather uncharacteristic attack on the country’s leadership by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) for seeking medical treatment in foreign hospitals is both bold and refreshing.
It is a marked departure from the culture of local State bodies who are largely guided by the dictum “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” whenever government and the ruling Zanu PF party are at fault.
We hope other constitutional bodies will take a cue from ZHRC’s forthrightness and be emboldened to discharge their mandates without fear or favour.
Coming as it does on the back of the continuing impasse between government and doctors who have been on strike since March 1, the ZHRC’s attack should prod government into taking decisive action to restore the country’s health delivery system, which is tottering on the brink of total collapse after decades of neglect by the powers-that-be.
The Elasto Mugwadi-led ZHRC makes very valid points in its damning criticism of the neglect of the health delivery system by the country’s leadership.
We concur with their view that by seeking treatment at foreign hospitals, and even at local private health institutions for that matter, our leaders are displaying lack of confidence in our health delivery system.
We also agree with them on the view that this lack of confidence in our hospitals undermines their commitment to working towards masterminding the recovery of our ailing health infrastructure.
It is therefore not surprising that for several decades our hospitals have deteriorated under the watch of an uncaring leadership.
Even the new government led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa appears to lack the will to attend to the very valid concerns being raised by the doctors.
Given the dire situation in our hospitals, which is mostly affecting the poor who, unlike our leaders, have no means to seek treatment in other countries, we urge government to urgently address the matter without delay.
We also hope that, at the very minimum, government will comply with the Abuja Declaration under which African countries agreed to allocate at least 15 percent of their national budgets.
If the Zimbabwean government meets the terms of the Abuja Declaration as it pledged, we are confident that most of the problems afflicting the local health system will have a higher chance of being solved.
If the Mnangagwa government is really a new dispensation as it regularly claims, then it has to restore the health system now.
After all, Section 76 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that every citizen and permanent resident of this beautiful country has the right to access basic health care services.