By Michael Gwarisa
THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee has accused Health and Child Care minister Dr David Parirenyatwa for deliberately delaying approval of the Public Health Bill as he is now reportedly running the health ministry from overseas, HealthTimes Online can reveal.
The developments came to light during what was supposed to be a Final Follow-up Meeting on the Public Health Act organised by Save The Children, where the ministry’s Permanent Secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji sent an ill-preprepared Director for Policy Planning and Coordination Dr Steven Banda to present on the current state of the Public Health Act and when it would be ready for parliament.
Presenting before the meeting, Banda said there was no exact date as to when the Bill would be ready for parliament as the minister had not had time to go through the draft bill as of yet.
“We don’t know when we are going to have or finalise the Public Health Act but we need at least Health center committees to actually take charge of health services at rural and central level.
“As for the statement where i said i don’t know when we are going to have the Public health act in place, i can not withdraw that statement. As of now we can tell when we are expecting the bill but i can not be definite to say on the 30th of this month etc,” said Banda before being interrupted by Binga North Legislator Hon Prince Dubeko Sibanda who accused him of coming to the meeting ill prepared.
“I think you have started on a bad note. Your job here was to come and brief us on on the current status of the Public Health Bill, you surely cant come here to tell us that you don’t know when it would be ready. We cant continue convening and meeting over one and the same issue.
“The last time we met, the Permanent Secretary Gwinji assured us that all was in place and we would have the Bill in parliament sooner, Where is the bill. Don’t tell us about your health center committees, thats not what we are here for,” said Sibanda.
Health Parliamentary Committee chair Dr Ruth Labode also took a swipe at Dr Banda for failing to deliver relevant information to the meeting and vowed to take up the matter with the Speaker of the House Assembly.
“The minister has been avoiding Parliament for a while now, he never appears before parliament whenever we need him. Here is what we are going to do, we are going to approach the Speaker of The House Assembly so that we summon the minister over the issue so that he takes a serious approach to the Public Health Act,” said Labode.
The latests consultation meeting to the PHA was held last month which also revealed that the first draft of the PHA was facing a number of challenges which include delays withing the Attorney General’s office and human resource shortages before going to to the ministry of health where is it is currently being held.
Legislator Dr Paul Chimedza concurred with his counterparts and said government was not serious in pushing the Public Health Act and blamed the minister for taking a lackadaisical approach to the health act.
“It is uprising that some bills take less than a week to be approved, why are we having delays in the Public Health Bill. It only shows that the minister is not serious about this issue. Its time we show the ministry that we are not jocking over this matter,” said Chimedza.
The current Public Health Act is over 90 years old and fails to address current health and medical challenges being faced by the sector.