Doctors tear into political manifestos

HARARE - An analysis of the election manifestos authored by the major political parties contesting in the July 30 polls has exposed their lack of appreciation of what needs to be done to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe’s healthcare system.

While there was a demonstrable understanding of the root causes behind the crisis, a report by the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (Zadhr) showed that many of the political actors were missing the plot in terms of what needs to be done to revive the country’s health delivery system.

From an array of manifestos studied, there were some parties with an in-depth understanding of the weakness inherent in the current system but could not convincingly outline the building blocks required to correct the situation.

“Analysis of the manifestos presents a potential missed opportunity to build healthier future generations as no proposal focuses on young people as well health programmes in school,” reads part of the report.

Zadhr said none of the political actors were able to make proposals to address the issue of health insurance schemes in the wake of gaps in funding preventative services in Zimbabwe.

Regarding Zanu PF, Zadhr said while there was evidence of a seasoned crafting of the health manifesto, the party would have to work hard to overcome the legacy of the past.

Of the MDC Alliance, the association noted that its manifesto had a human rights approach to health, linked to economic guarantees of the right to health.

Turning to the People’s Rainbow Coalition, it said its manifesto makes specific mention of a multi-sectorial approach to health care — emphasising the need for all sectors of government to play a role towards health service delivery.

“The governance style focuses on constitutionalism and on inclusive democracy. Since the right to health has constitutional protection, this is a welcome ethos. The link of health to housing, water and sanitation was mentioned and evident will to address challenges in these sectors was seen,” read the analysis.

With regards Thokozani Khupe’s MDC-T, Zadhr said despite being brief, its manifesto attempted to address the enforcement of the 15 percent health budget allocation prescribed by the Abuja Declaration.

Zadhr said the Coalition of Democrats had very little points which supported the right to health, while the Nkosana Moyo’s Alliance for the People’s Agenda’s manifesto was a descriptive manifesto with clear step-wise proposals to address different areas of human development – governance, human rights and social development.

“Linkages with the social determinants of heath are less well presented in addressing issues which relate to water, sanitation and decent living,” it said.

In the report, Zadhr noted that health, service delivery and access to complimentary social rights must be a priority consideration.

Zadhr’s executive director Calvin Fambirai, said people should vote with a health perspective as investment in preventative services was practically absent with inadequate fiscal support.

He said this has resulted in the majority of citizens, who are already burdened with survival challenges, seeking services at public healthcare facilities.

“These same facilities lack drugs and medical consumables and access to care often results in a high burden of out-of-pocket expenses apart from the restrictive user fees. Perennial industrial action has dogged the health sector and poor staff retention has had a negative impact on quality of care. Epidemics of communicable diseases such as typhoid and cholera are the norm.

“In order to ensure full enjoyment of the right to health for all in Zimbabwe, it is necessary to review the content of political manifestos to determine which strategies best understand root issues to address in the health sector and where there is evidence of commitment to restoration of quality care and social protection,” Fambirai said.

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