THE new Public Health Act (PHA) is now ready for presentation before parliament amid revelations that the final drafting of the bill is due this week.
Briefing an advocacy meeting on the PHA, Binga North legislator Prince Dubeko Sibanda who is also a member of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Health and Child Care said the drafter of the bill had assured them that the document would be ready for parliament before end of this week ahead of the public consultations.
“According to the Chief drafter in the Attorney General’s office, Dr Mhlanga, the bill should be ready for parliament first week of March. Next week, the bill will be with the ministry of health and the following week it will in parliament.
“We will make efforts by next week to make a follow-up regards the status of the bill so that we keep the nation up to date of the bill,” said Sibanda.
The new PHA will replace the 1920 law which is silent on most new public health challenges such as HIV/AIDS, Cancers amongst a host of others.
According to health expects, the current public health Act does not mention the existence of non-communicable diseases like cancer which wasn’t much of a scourge during the 1920s.
At a recent media workshop, Training and Research Support Centre (TARSC) Programs manager Artwell Kadungure said the review of the old Act was not about the age but about its content and added that the new act has to address the issue of non-communicable diseases, maternal health amongst a host of others.
The amendment process of the Public health act was a highly consultative process which began in 2010. A white paper was produced and circulated amongst stakeholders and review meetings were held in connection the amendment process.
The last review meeting was held on February 14, 2017 in the capital Harare.
The new law is amongst other things set to address the issue of compulsory immunisation as the country aims at combating killer diseases which have been the cause of high infant mortality in the country.
Health and Child care parliamentary portfolio committee chair Dr Ruth Labode concurred with Sibanda adding that if the bill is not made ready for parliament on the promised time frames, they would make a submission to the line minister to ensure its speedy implementation.
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Health Committee Clerk Edna Mafuruse explained the processes involved in the presentation and adoption of a bill in parliament.
“When a bill comes to parliament, it’s sent to the printers; from the printers we now get what is known as a bill proof which is more like a like draft meant for the purposes of proofreading for possible errors.
“The bill is then returned to the printers for final printing, after this is done, we wait for the first reading which happens only after 14 days (two weeks). After this, the parliamentary portfolio committee responsible goes around for public hearings, seeking public input on the bill,” said Mafuruse.