ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) Senior Program manager, Tinashe Mundawarara said the newly gazetted Public Health Bill (PHB) was inclusive of various sections of the society which were side-lined in the old 90 year old document.
By Michael Gwarisa
Briefing Journalists during media engagement yesterday, Mundawarara said the issue of key populations was touched at a wider length in the new bill even though more still needed to be done to make it a perfect document.
“As you might be aware, the ministry of health has managed to push for the gazetting of the Public Health Bill which was done on September, 21, 2017 which is very progressive bill if you compare it with the current Act in terms of the national aspiration in terms of promoting access to healthcare and function within the later in spirit of the constitution.
“What we have realized is that this bill has some positives with regards to key populations particularly on issues of inclusivity and participation where if you look at the advisory board, the constitutive elements of the advisory board that were included in the bill with regards to inclusion and participation of key populations, persons with disabilities, youths,” said Mundawarara.
He added that the bill could be made stronger with respect to other key populations which include members of the Lesbian Gays Bie Sexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
“If you look at most ministry of health documents, they make reference to the LGBT and other key populations who can have a voice in terms their advisory board. A large portion of the ministry health budget and other funding activities comes from the donor community who again are having a to raise some of the key issues around key populations.
“With regards to key pops, there the issue of inclusion, non discrimination, participation, decriminalization, expanded access, privacy and dignity, self health care setting for key populations. Looking at that, we see that the bill has been progressive in terms of inclusion of key populations.”
Meanwhile, Section 31 of the Bill, which speaks on principles of public health and practice, there is need to include. Section 39 provides for confidentiality of key population or anyone who approaches a health center seeking treatment or attention.
“It is also posit8ve to note that any one who is aggrieved by the conduct healthcare personal, can be able to take action and report. We are going to see an increase in consumer activism for those who are aggrieved within the process.
“Section 39 of the bill will also need to be expanded to include privacy also if you look in terms of the key pops.”
Key populations in Zimbabwe have been suffering prejudice due to their sexuality of trade with police reportedly victimizing sex workers or detaining them for long hours behind bars.
Mundawara also said the new bill if passed into law will also allow those in emergency situations to access health services even in the absence of upfront payments and it speaks against detention of patients as a result of non-payment of hospital bills.