Doctors implore Gweru residents to know health rights
THE Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) and the Health Professions Association (HPA) have implored residents to know their rights as patients and get an understanding of what the Patients’ Charter states.
Speaking during a two-day community meeting which began on Wednesday in Gweru, ZADHR programmes officer Lorraine Mafunda urged residents to demand to be heard every time they visited medical institutions like hospitals, clinics and laboratories.
“As patients, we need to know all the information about ourselves. It’s our right to hear from the doctors or nurses about everything they will be doing to us,” Mafunda said. “Health issues are a priority to us. At times as patients, we don’t know whom to approach or where to go in the event we run into problems.”
ZADHR, she said, advocated for patients’ rights to health and was timeously engaged with the Ministry of Health so that citizen enjoyed their rights.
Mafunda outlined to the communities sections of the Constitution directly and indirectly linked to health issues, notably sections 49 (liberty), 57 (privacy), 62 (access to information) as well as 76 (health care).
Other sections were sections 77 (food and water), 80 (women), 81 (children), 82 (elderly) and 83 (persons with disabilities).
HPA public relations officer Linda Nkala urged communities to lodge with the association all complaints to them.
“The association registers all the complaints you lodge in with us. As an association, we investigate the matter and if the defendant is found guilty, we suspend or cancel their licence,” Nkala said.
She informed communities that the Patient’s Charter that was a public document put in place by the Ministry of Health following recommendations by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe.
She said there were 9 rights enshrined in the Patients’ Charter.
These include hospitality, confidentiality, privacy, discrimination, choice, redress of grievances, admission and stay in hospital as well as consent.
A ZADHR member Mercy Mudariki told the communities where to report cases if they felt they were not served to satisfaction. She said all hospitals and clinics had senior people in charge at each given moment whom they could request to see.
Residents who attended the meetings held at Mtapa Hall, Shumba Hall in Mambo, Mickey Mouse creche and Young Women’s Christian Association (both in Mkoba) expressed different views with regards to their rights, with some pointing out their dissatisfactions at most health institutions.
Most residents singled out a clinic in Mkoba (name withheld) where they said they were forced to buy batteries for the HBP pressure.
“We feel it’s a syndicate that is going on there. They charge us $3 for a card. Then we are told the HBP machine has no batteries, so they tell us to go to Mkoba 6 shopping centre where we are charged a dollar for the service we should have got at the clinic,” a resident said.
A man who identified himself as B Khumalo said he went to an institution in town where he was told that outpatients were only attended to between 8am and 12 midday, a situation he said was not fair.
“The queue starts building up at around 4am, yet the nurses come around 8. If you go there after 12, you will not get any help. It defeats the whole purpose because on a day I would be seriously ill, I won’t get the help so needed,” Khumalo said.