On World Health Day, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) calls
upon state actors and non-sate actors to commemorate the right to good
health by joining the World Health Organisation (WHO) in calling for
the acceleration of the manufacture and equitable rollout of vaccines
in every country.

World Health Day is observed every year on 7 April to highlight the
shared global vision of a fairer world in which everyone has access to
quality healthcare.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has revealed the stark global inequality that
exists with regards to access to quality healthcare. High-income
countries that have robust healthcare systems, despite being harshly
affected by COVID-19, have been able to respond to the pandemic
through the manufacture and speedy rollout of vaccines. In contrast,
low-income nations with vulnerable less resilient health systems, have
borne the brunt of the suffering caused by the pandemic. This inequity
of health outcomes highlights the need for all nations to cooperate on
the manufacture of vaccines and their distribution to all persons
across the globe as soon as possible. The attainment of a society that
is fairer and healthier is dependent on this collaboration of all
nations in the fight against COVID-19.

This year, WHO is calling for the acceleration of vaccine equity for
all healthcare workers and those who are at highest risk of
contracting COVID-19. According to WHO, the best way to end the
pandemic, stop future variants, save lives and limit the spread of the
virus is to vaccinate quickly and equitably, starting with healthcare
workers. Healthcare workers have been at the forefront of the pandemic
since its beginning and they remain disproportionately exposed to the
virus in comparison to other population groups. Therefore, inclusive
vaccination of all healthcare workers is necessary for the prevention
of the spread of the virus to the rest of the population.

WHO’s campaign to accelerate the vaccination of healthcare workers and
vulnerable groups, such as older people, is titled #VaccinEquity. The
campaign calls on everyone to urge global, national and local leaders
to ensure that vaccines are equitably distributed in every country. In
addition, private companies are being urged to play their part in
ensuring that COVID-19 vaccination is accelerated globally in order to
ensure that underlying global inequalities do not hinder the
attainment of the vision of a healthier society in which everyone has
access to quality healthcare. The #VaccinEquity call to action can be
fulfilled through donations and support for COVAX and the ACT
Accelerator, which are global partnerships designed to accelerate the
development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 tests,
treatments, and vaccines. Moreover, Ministries of Health are urged to
invest in their primary health care systems for distribution of
vaccines and governments are implored to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines
are distributed for free and without discrimination to all healthcare
workers and especially vulnerable groups as a matter of priority. The
campaign also discourages nations from engaging in vaccine nationalism
and encourages high levels of collaboration in the manufacture and
distribution of vaccines.

Section 76 (1) and 76 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that
every Zimbabwean citizen and permanent resident has the right to have
access to basic healthcare and that the State must take reasonable
legislative and other measures to achieve the progressive realisation
of this right. In the context of COVID-19, the right to healthcare
extends to access to comprehensive information on the virus. In April
2020, ZLHR obtained an order that compelled the state actors to
release updates on COVID-19, information on testing and treatment
centres and information on plans and strategies that were being
adopted by the state to combat the pandemic. The order also compelled
the state actors to provide Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) to
frontline healthcare workers.

On this World Health Day, ZLHR calls upon:

  • State actors and non-sate actors to commemorate the right to good
    health by joining the World Health Organisation (WHO) in calling for
    the acceleration of the manufacture and equitable rollout of vaccines
    in every country.
  • Global, national and local leaders to ensure that vaccines are
    distributed everywhere.
  • Companies to play their part in pushing for an acceleration in the
    manufacture and distribution of vaccines globally.
  • State actors and non-state actors to donate to or support COVAX and
    Act Accelerator.
  • Nations to desist from engaging in vaccine nationalism.
  • Manufacturers to share knowledge and vaccines with COVAX and ACT
    Accelerator in order to expedite the manufacture and distribution of
    vaccines.
  • The Zimbabwean government to fulfil its obligation to take
    reasonable legislative and other measures to progressively realise the
    right to healthcare of all Zimbabweans and permanent residents.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)