The Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has launched a campaign to encourage health professionals to register to vote in the upcoming 2023 national elections.
To be able to vote, one has to first register in their constituency as voting in Zimbabwe has been traditionally subject to citizenship and residency requirements.
ZADHR’s campaign titled, ‘#ParticipateEngageInfluence’ is directed at both doctors and nurses, who the association says do not often take part in civic processes.
“Our campaign is trying to urge health workers to be more proactive in terms of their civil engagement especially when it comes to politics and mainly the right to participate in choosing leaders,” said ZADHR Secretary-General, Dr Norman Matara in an interview with CITE.
Dr Matara noted several studies were done globally that indicated health care professionals often shied away from voting processes yet their sector was affected by poll decisions.
“Actually there are several studies that health care professionals are not involved in voting processes. The studies say doctors do not participate in registering to vote and voting. This is not only a Zimbabwean challenge but occurs worldwide,” said the health practitioner.
“It has been observed that physicians are not active, so globally there have been campaigns to try and encourage healthcare professionals to be proactive. This is what we are doing as well, encouraging our doctors and nurses to participate in civic processes.”
The ZADHR secretary-general highlighted that such campaigns were not new and a similar initiative was also employed in the United States.
“We saw in America, people, actually doctors who set up a group to encourage civilians to register and vote. These doctors would actually do their campaigns, leading civilians to centres of registration, to register to vote in America,” Dr Matara noted.
“As ZADHR, we are trying out this similar campaign encouraging people to register to vote and vote for candidates of their choice, so that their voices can actually be heard and then can be proactive in terms of those issues.”
Dr Matara added that another possible campaign would be for the doctors association to conduct public debates, where political parties attended and presented their health manifestos.
“We are also trying to hold serial public debates between various political parties, where politicians articulate their health policies to the nation so that people can be well informed, as to which political party has the right strategies to improve the right to health for the country. This is the campaign we are trying to do,” said the medical practitioner.
ZADHR is an association of doctors and other health professionals working for the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health by all Zimbabweans through a health service and health service providers that promote the right to health.