HomeLettersZim’s health sector is in ICU

Zim’s health sector is in ICU

s it not such a shock that one cannot get basic items such like gloves, bandages, and pain killers like Paracetamol in local hospitals?

This is what (the Zimbabwe Peace Project) ZPP found out when the organisation carried out a survey on clinics and hospitals around the country, and while some had such consumables, health practitioners were demanding a fee in order to dispense them.

What is even more shocking is that this has become so much like an acceptable situation, and when people go to public health institutions, they  seem used to the idea that all they get is consultation, and when it comes to getting necessary items like medication, and sometimes bed linen, they have to source that themselves.

We have a situation where backyard midwives have become popular as formal public health institutions are either too expensive for the increasingly vulnerable populations, or are too under-equipped to cater for expecting mothers.

Home deliveries are risky as pregnant women need services to support pregnancy and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of sexually transmitted infections, among other risks.

Mortality rate, infant, mother (per 1,000 live births) in Zimbabwe was reported at 33.6 % in 2020.

This is against a backdrop of a government that has continued to brag about how it has improved the lives of Zimbabweans.

And the state of the health sector is a clear indicator of the government’s commitment to its people, because it is where the line between living and dead is drawn.

Underfunding and lack of prioritisation of the health sector have remained the biggest challenges and last year Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said government was meant to spend $927,3 billion towards the health sector.

With inflation ravaging the Zimbabwe dollar, $117 billion was equivalent to about US$78 million at the prevailing parallel market rate.

Today, $117 billion is equivalent to about US$43 million.

This amount is clearly inadequate to fund the entire health sector, which is in dire need of equipment and infrastructure.

Health authorities have also raised an alarm over staff shortages because of an exodus of healthcare workers.

Nurses take home less than US$200 a month.

According to the Health Services Board, 2 000 Zimbabwean healthcare workers left the country for  countries like the United Kingdom, United States and Australia in 2021.

Related to this, those that providing first aid care training are raking in huge dividends as those emigrating are supposed to have certificates of this basis training.

Instead of working on improving the working conditions of healthcare workers and investing in proper infrastructure, government is attempting to, once again, use the law to suppress the rights of health professionals.

Through the Health Services Amendment Bill, government seeks to criminalise health workers who speak out or protest against poor wages and working conditions.

If passed into law, the Bill is likely to create an unconducive work environment which could trigger mass resignations as health professionals leave for greener pastures where their services get the due remuneration.

Government should simply do the logical thing of withdrawing the Bill and work towards improving the remuneration of health workers.

Healthcare workers have rights which the employer must recognise as is guaranteed in section 65 of the constitution.

It should not end there as there should be massive investment in new and existing health care facilities. -ZPP

Time to tackle underground water crisis

Now more than ever, we need to take action to tackle the global water crisis whose scarcity is the biggest economic and societal risk.

A core focus of World Water Day is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

Access to clean water is a basic right that is important for the survival of humanity, yet it can be one of the hardest resources to attain.

Zimbabwe has not been spared from the water crisis which has affected people’s rights to water and sanitation as well as other related rights, including the rights to life, food, and health.

Under Section 77 of Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution, “Every person has the right to safe, clean, and potable water.”

The government is obligated to take reasonable legislative and other measures, within the limits of available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to water.

Zimbabwe is also a party to regional and international human rights treaties that recognize the right to water and sanitation.

However, it is saddening to note that poor service delivery by local government authorities is emerging as a major threat to the right to water.

We take time to remind the authorities of their obligations to improve service delivery, reduce corruption including developing and enforcing transparency and accountability measures regarding the allocation of finances and expenditures.

The citizens while being encouraged to pay for the services will only do so if these are religiously rendered.

In addition, water plays an important role in ensuring equitable, sustainable, and productive rural economies.

Fifty-three of the Sustainable Development Goals 169 targets have a link to groundwater. For instance, SDG target 2.4 on sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices relies on the availability of ground water.

Good groundwater management is needed to achieve SDG target 6.6 to protect and restore water-related ecosystems.

As climate change worsens, groundwater found underground in aquifers, sands, and gravels will become more critical.

Demand for water will continue to increase, and it has been estimated that by 2030 nearly half of the population will live in areas of high-water stress, which will result in the displacement of populations.

Now is an opportune time for technological development, to create jobs in the operation and maintenance of treatment plants to reclaim water.

As we commemorate the day, we are also being encouraged to work together to sustainably manage this precious resource which is being affected by many challenges including pollution.

Its sustainable use will balance the needs of people and the planet.

One of (Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association) Zela’s strategic objectives is to contribute to improved business practices and local service delivery especially healthcare, water, and sanitation through promoting accountable, responsive, and democratic local governance systems and responsible investments.

Therefore, the organisation is committed to influence policy, legal and planning processes on the environment and natural resource management for improved local service delivery.

Through its local service delivery and governance programme, Zela is empowering communities including community monitors to effectively engage their Authorities using different tools provided by the organisation.

We as ZELA call upon:

  • Local authorities working closely with the government to ensure the citizens enjoy environmental hygiene, as an aspect of the right to health. This includes taking steps to prevent threats to health from unsafe and toxic water conditions.
  • The government to craft, adopt and implement comprehensive and integrated strategies and programmes to ensure that there is sufficient and safe water for present and future generations. Such strategies and programmes may include reducing depletion of water resources through unsustainable extraction while ensuring that proposed developments do not interfere with access to adequate water.
  • Duty bearers and citizens work towards the preservation of wetlands as these are important to ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation, freshwater availability among others. Therefore, it is important to encourage actions to conserve and restore them. Zela

Feedback

UNICEF Zimbabwe has released its 2021 Annual Report that outlines the situation for women and children in Zimbabwe with an overview of results and achievements in the areas of Hhealth, HIV/Aids, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, education, child protection, and social policy.

2021 was another year dominated by Covid-19 globally — characterised in Zimbabwe by the second, third and fourth waves of infections, lockdowns, and the introduction of the Covid-19 vaccine. Unicef implemented large scale programmes in close collaboration with the government of Zimbabwe, WHO and partners to respond to Covid-19, including by promoting behavioural changes to avoid the spread of the virus, providing medical supplies to treat affected people, distributing protective materials and encouraging people to get vaccinated.

Working with the government, donors, development partners, civil society organisations, other UN agencies and guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) in support of Zimbabwe’s National Development Strategy 1, Unicef rolled out in 2021 large-scale programmes benefiting the most vulnerable women and children in the country. In 2021 Unicef and partners:

  • provided treatment to 81% of the adolescents affected by HIV/Aids
  • reached almost 400 000 children with emergency nutrition interventions
  • supported basic water supply services to more than 1,2 million people
  • provided learning opportunities to 150 000 children with disabilities and out-of-school children
  • ensured child protection services to 98 000 children in need of special assistance

In 2021 donors, development partners and UN joint programmes have contributed over US$135 million to Unicef programmes, including through the multi-donor the Development Funds, to respond to the needs of women and children in Zimbabwe.

Together with the government, Unicef developed innovative approaches in 2021, especially in response to the challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. -Unicef

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