Lawmakers breath fire
16 June 2017
. . . Public Health Act delay worrying
LAWMAKERS are breathing fire over the delay of the Public Health Act accusing the Ministry of Health and Child Care for deliberately delaying it.
During a follow up meeting on the Public Health Act (PHA) which was held in the capital on Thursday, the Health and Child Care parliamentary portfolio committee said they will summon Health Minister David Parirenyatwa to give them answers over the PHA.
Drama unfolded as the legislators refused to entertain a Ministry of Health and Child Care official who had attended the meeting on behalf of the Health Secretary to give update on the progress of the PHA.
The Members of Parliament fumed when the official failed to give an answer of where exactly the PHA was hanging in the Ministry.
“Where is it exactly in the Ministry, when he sent you (Health Secretary) he should have told you exactly where the Act is because that is the progress that we want right now.
“As long as you do not have those answers then we are not going to listen to your presentation,” said the committee chairperson, Dr Ruth Labode.
Members of that committee also concurred that the Ministry of Health and Child Care was being truant hence should be summoned to appear before Parliament.
Gutu South legislator, Dr Paul Chimedza accused the Ministry of delaying such a critical bill at a time when disease burden was on the increase, population size had changed for the country to continue using such an ‘archaic’ act.
“The act has been hanging for too long and I still do not understand why they are still hanging on to such an old legislative which does in synch with the disease burden, population growth among other changes.
“As a committee we are not happy at all, it looks like they are just not in a hurry. We need a proper update from the Minister as we want to have the bill passed into law.”
Binga North legislator, Prince Sibanda reiterated that summoning of the Health Minister was the only way to find answers.
“This bill might never come during this 8th Parliament if we do not summon the Minister. The delay is deliberate and he should give us answers.
“The Minister has been avoiding us for a long time now and we cannot continue like that. Let us appear Minister Parirenyatwa over the bill to appear before the committee, we need answers,” he argued.
Unlike other Acts such the Land Reform Act which saw parliament deliberating overnight towards the speedy adoption of the bill which culminated into the execution of the land reform program, approval and deliberation of the proposed Health amendment act has taken longer than expected.
For more than 90 years, the country has relied on a single Public Health ACT (PHA) which fails among other things to address the new challenges obtaining in the health sector.
Since 1924, the country’s disease burden has increased and the country is failing to control due to lack of resources and the required technology in the health sector.
The old health law is silent on non-communicable diseases, HIV/AIDS, maternal health, key-populations risks amongst a host of others, making it difficult to combat a number of sexually transmitted epidemics.
The document presented 20 proposals for review which include the addition of a statement outlining a broad vision for public health, and the mission of the state and actors in the public health system.
The delay of the PHA, despite all these challenges that the country’s health sector is facing, continues to boggle the minds of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care.