Strengthening Access to Health: The Human Rights Perspective

Health is an overarching right, as one cannot enjoy any other rights if they are in ill health. Citizens need to know that it is their right to have access to appropriate healthcare services. If these are not provided, they can take responsible authorities to task by demanding that right. In creating awareness and empowering communities to have the right knowledge and information, SAfAIDS and Restless Development engaged the services of a legal practitioner to unpack the importance of access to health services at the National Dialogue on strengthening access to health in Bulawayo on the 2nd of February 2018.

Prisca Dube, a lawyer, explained in detail the contents of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the rights it guarantees. She highlighted that although the Zimbabwe Constitution does not speak to all human rights, those it highlights in it are those that an individual can use to sue the government if they are concerned that they are not being met.

Prisca Dube – Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Bulawayo

In unpacking access to health, Prisca explained what guaranteeing access would entail on the part of the government issues of accessibility, affordability and acceptability; key areas of concern as many people have to walk long distances to access health services.   

She highlighted that Chapter 4 section 76 of the Constitution articulates the Right to Health Care, with part (ii) of the same speaking to the right of access to treatment by persons with chronic illnesses. Prisca challenged participants by questioning them why Zimbabweans have taken to interpreting chronic illness as HIV, forgetting about diabetes, hypertension and the varying forms of cancer, which require the same attention. The Government should also take this wide and encompassing approach to health, taking into account changing trends in medical developments and health.