By Wallace Mawire
The Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) is to launch a Health workers safety tracker which will act as an advocacy tool will also be utilised in enhancing access to information to the public and to healthcare workers and in engaging with responsible authorities in working towards improved working conditions for health workers, it has been reported.
ZADHR said that it is deeply concerned with the on-going industrial strike by nurses and other healthcare workers in the public health delivery sector.
“The state of affairs compounds the already dire situation within the public health sector and more importantly in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic,” ZADHR said.
They also added that they were also worried about the lack of urgency and the lethargy by the government in addressing the health workers’ genuine concerns.
ZADHR urged the government to prioritise the welfare of the health workforce in order to boost their moral and improve the health outcomes as a matter of urgency.
It added that the strikes come at a time health workers have been complaining about shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in their respective workspace, a situation which is said to expose them to contracting Covid-19. According to ZADHR, Currently, Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare has skeletal staff that can only look after 60 to 70 patients out of a possible 425 at any given time.
ZADHR says that this is testament to the fact that government has paid lip service to the concerns of health workers despite court orders imploring the government to prioritise the welfare and health of the health workers. ZADHR says it stands with the affected and striking health care workers and urges the government to exhibit urgency when confronted with issues that affect the well being of its workers and by extension the citizens.
They also said that they continue to note the difficulties being faced by citizens in accessing health services including access to emergency maternal services. ZADHR says it has has verified reports of citizens who are being turned away from hospitals because they do not have Covid-19 test results.
‘This is a clear violation of section 76(3) of the Zimbabwean constitution which states that “no person may be refused emergency medical treatment in any health institution.” “Whilst ZADHR notes that the requirement is in place to protect fellow health workers, we advise that public health institutions should have the testing facilities readily available for emergency cases such that patients are not turned away and told to get tested in private institutions,’ they said.
They added that public health institutions should make sure that health workers attending to emergency cases have proper PPE to protect themselves and that adequate infection control guidelines are strictly adhered to.