Stop buck passing and fix health system, govt urged

Dr Rutendo Bonde (Facebook picture)

By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
26 June 2014

The government should “stop passing the buck” and take seriously its obligation of providing Zimbabweans with basic healthcare, a human rights doctor has said.

Dr Rutendo Bonde, chairperson of the Zim Association of Doctors for Human Rights, said the new constitution compels government to ensure that Zimbabweans’ have access to basic healthcare.

Speaking on SW Radio Africa’s Big Picture Programme, Dr Bonde noted that by failing to implement the new charter, the government was neglecting this responsibility and “passing the buck on partners”.

“The decline in our health sector is correlated to the general economic decline that’s been going on for a decade now.

“We can speak of this decline in terms of loss of skilled human resources, the inadequate State financing of public health, and for at least a decade now there have been no clinical mentors within our hospitals,” Dr Bonde said.

The impact of this has been staff shortages, infrastructural decay and obsolete technology that is not equal to the complex health needs of Zimbabweans, she added.

“What we have is an ailing health system that is heavily-dependant on partners and can’t stand on its own, a system that passes the buck on to patients in terms of user-fees, and this creates a barrier to access.”

Dr Bonde also bemoaned the failure by the system to retain skilled professionals which she said was reflecting on the poor quality of care that patients receive at public health institutions.

She said all these issues can be address if the government fixes the socio-economic environment that is driving health professionals out of the country.

“But one recent important development has been the constitutionalisation of the right to health and the government should feel compelled legally, socially and politically to address and actualise this right.”

Dr Bonde also called on the government to provide the full package of healthcare, including facilitating access to other rights such as clean water which she said is crucial to good health.

Her comments come in the wake of reports of a major cholera scare in Harare’s Mabvuku suburb where more than 900 people are said to have been affected after using dirty water.

Harare residents blamed the outbreak on the lack of clean water and the use of unprotected water sources by the residents.

“Residents suspect that the outbreak emerged after municipal water supply resumed last week in areas that had not been receiving municipal water for more than eight months, which could be attributed to rusting infrastructure,” the Combined Harare Residents’ Association revealed this week.

Harare-based SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa said countrywide, at least 230,000 have been treated for diarrhoeal diseases.

“The overriding issue is that the government is not providing any service at the moment and this is compromising people’s health.

Muchemwa said the disease outbreaks were just symptoms of a problem whose roots can be traced to the crisis of government and economic paralysis prevailing in the country.

Despite growing calls from Zimbabweans for the government to fix the problems in the country, the ruling party insists that it has no money, leaving international donors to provide basic services.

In the health sector at least 90% of drugs are provided by the international community while the education sector is also dependent on donor support.

Although Zimbabwe is a mineral-rich country, corruption, lack of accountability and mismanagement has meant that only the ZANU PF elite benefit, but even they go outside the country for medical treatment.



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