By Daniel Phiri
GAZETTING of the Public Health Bill (PHA) which is being prepared in Parliament might take longer than expected, legal watchdog Veritas Zimbabwe has said.
In its Bill Watch update series dated October 20, 2017, Veritas Zimbabwe said the Bill had been taken to the government printer but was likely to take long before it is gazetted.
“Parliament’s latest Status of Bills list reflects that the Public Health Bill was sent to the Government Printer on 3rd October.As this is bound to be a very long Bill that will require careful checking of proofs before it is gazetted, gazetting should not be regarded as imminent.
“Gazetting could well take months; for instance, the proofs of the Civil Aviation Authority Amendment Bill were sent to the drafters in the Attorney-General’s Office on 28th March and are still there,” said the Veritas.
Although the Bill is urgent in nature owing to the various challenges obtaining in the country’s health sector, it has however suffered a lot of delays in its journey from the Health Ministry, AG’s office and Cabinet respectively.
Currently, Zimbabwe is using the PHA which was enacted in 1924 and does not answer to such ailments as HIV/Aids, non communicable diseases and maternal health among many others which are giving the health sector sleepless nights in trying to address them.
The PHA failure to answer to new health scenarios has been fingered as one of the many reasons why the health sector is underfunded by government.
This underfunding has however resulted in the sector heavily depending on the benevolence of the various development partners who are funding even such things as purchasing of condoms and family planning pills.
The Bill is so critical in that it is seen by many stakeholders in the health sector as one of the way that will push government to religiously comply with the Abuja Declaration on funding of the health sector which it has been ignoring for a long time.
To make things worse, President Robert Mugabe skipped the Bill when he set the legislative agenda for the 5th session of the 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Portfolio committee of Health chair Dr Ruth Labode called on citizens who might want access to the document to contact Save the Children, CWGH, ZLHR, TARSE as it was a civic society initiative.
“Yes, the bill has come to parliament. The Counsel for Parliament then prepares it for Gazetting. After Gazette the bill is officially distributed to all the legislators. The Minister of Health can give notice to parliament of his intention to present the 1st reading of the bill. All processes are now in parliament.
“Those who want to see the draft bill can contact The Health committee will in the coming weeks be officially introduced to the content of the draft bill. Please note that this is a Civil Society initiative.”