Zimbabwean doctors have appealed to the United Nations (UN) for it to intervene in the ongoing standoff with the government and raise alarm on the dire human rights situation unfolding in the country.
Doctors have been on strike since September 3, 2019, citing incapacitation to report for duty and lack of proper medical toolkits in public hospitals, a sad situation that has seen some patients die.
Their plight has worsened after ‘failed’ negotiations with government, resulting in over 400 medical practitioners being fired for not reporting for duty – prompting well-wishers and pastors to mediate between the two parties.
The doctors’ call coincides with the 2019 International Human Rights Day commemorated on December 10, which allows people to take stock of the gains made or missed in the protection, promotion and fulfilment of human rights.
In a statement, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) described 2019 as an extremely difficult period for observing human rights in the country, calling upon the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health to intervene.
“This failure to resolve the incapacitation of medical doctors by the government signify a failure on the state’s obligation to respect, protect and to fulfil to health we, therefore, urge the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health to raise alarm on the dire human rights situation in Zimbabwe,” said the doctors.
ZADHR also took the occasion to highlight some of the violence unleashed on the citizens by the state in 2019 and the neglect in public hospitals.
“In January 2019, dozens of Zimbabweans were killed in state-orchestrated violence while hundreds were victims of gunshots, intimidation, and torture in the hands of the state. The freedoms and human rights to assemble, associate and peacefully demonstrate continue to be criminalised,” said the doctors.
“ZADHR has been extensively faced with a growing number of patients who were injured as they were peacefully exercising their constitutionally provided rights to assembly and association.”
The doctors lamented how several people have died due to lack of proper health care.
“On the other hand, several people have lost their lives as the government has failed to resolve the stalemate with medical doctors who are clamouring for improved working conditions.
“The closure of and or scaling down of services at health facilities inhibits access to medical care to the majority poor Zimbabweans including women and children who are amongst the vulnerable consumers of health services and goods,” ZADHR said.
The human rights doctors also called for action from both “citizens and the government to work towards a Zimbabwe where human rights are protected and promoted.”