By Daniel Phiri
THE much awaited Public Health Bill (PHB) that seeks among other things to replace the outdated Public Health Act enacted in 1924 has been gazetted and will soon be making its way to Parliament for First Reading.
Although it has been designated as urgent, the Public Health Bill has faced a lot of delays along the way which include a shortage of staff at the Attorney General’s office coupled with other delays at the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) offices owing to unavailability of the Minister.
The last time the PHB was heard of was when it was submitted to the government printer for gazetting and it had to go through necessary proof reading before being gazetted.
Legal and electoral watchdog Veritas Zimbabwe said the Bill was gazetted “on the 1st of December 2017”.
According to the preamble, the Bill seek s to “provide for public health, to provide for the conditions for the improvement of the health sector and quality of life and the health care for all people in Zimbabwe, to provide for the rights, duties, powers and functions of all parties in the public health system, to provide for measures for the administration of public health, to repeal the Public Health Act [Chapter15:09], and to provide for matters connected herewith..”.
According to health experts, the current Public Health Act was making it difficult to effectively respond to some diseases as they were not recognised by the Act.
The Act was also not to date with HIV/Aids and non-communicable diseases that have become a menace in the health sector.
There had been fears that the Bill will not make into Parliament during this session 5th Session of the 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe as it had been left out of the legislative agenda set by the then President Robert Mugabe.