ZLHR Condemns Attacks on Medical Practitioners

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) notes with extreme concern some social media statements issued by a government representative labelling some medical practitioners as medical assassins.

In a message posted on Twitter, Nick Mangwana, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services boldly claimed that some unidentified medical practitioners were medical assassins, who were weaponising the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) to ill-treat and target certain politicians within their care.

It is unfortunate and regrettable that we have high ranking government officials who are making such bold statements on unverified and unfounded allegations.

ZLHR finds this allegation absurd and unwarranted at a critical time when all medical practitioners and ordinary citizens are giving their all in seeking to curb the spread of coronavirus which is claiming the precious lives of people. Such statements are also very dangerous and may lead to certain sections of society shunning medical treatment should they be infected by COVID-19.

It is shocking that while medical practitioners are being celebrated the world over during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic as they battle to save people from one of the most infectious viral attacks in recent years, Zimbabwean authorities seem to frown at their valuable efforts and contributions.

It is unfortunate that this is not the first time that medical practitioners have been accused by government officials of committing such misdemeanours as in recent years and months authorities have summarily dismissed doctors and nurses from employment after accusing them of being influenced by political motives in protesting against poor remuneration and working conditions.

Of note is that our medical practitioners are risking their lives by caring for patients suffering from COVID-19 without provision of adequate personal protective equipment and other safety measures in their workplaces and this has not deterred them to sacrifice a lot for people.

ZLHR is worried that government is defying observations and recommendations by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) which in Resolution 443 on the Human Rights Situation in the Republic of Zimbabwe following its meeting during the 66th Ordinary session released in August 2020 expressed concern on medical practitioners, who were arrested for demanding improved salaries and working conditions. The ACHPR also urged the government to protect the rights of medical practitioners and address their concerns for better wages and working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ZLHR reminds government of the need to guarantee protection of the rights of medical practitioners and demands that authorities address their concerns in line with the Resolution of the ACHPR.

ZLHR urges government to treat and protect the country’s remaining healthcare personnel with dignity as this is our most valuable assets on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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