Govt warns hospitals turning away patients  

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Sindiso Mhlophe

THE government has warned public hospitals turning away patients who do not have certificates or results to prove that they are coronavirus (Covid-19) negative.
This comes as the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has raised concern over citizens who are being turned away for not having documentation to show that they do not have the lethal virus which has claimed over 40 people in the country.
Health Deputy minister John Mangwiro told the Daily News yesterday that it was not part of the government’s policy for public hospitals to turn away citizens seeking medical attention for not having Covid-19 results.
“We understand that medical personnel have to treat everyone as if they have Covid-19, but it is not government policy for people to be turned away for not having any documentation to prove that they don’t have the virus.
“The government is working tirelessly to ensure that adequate personal protective equipment is availed to medical practitioners so that they attend to patients fully equipped and protected from the virus. I would like to warn those hospitals who are engaging in this practise to stop it as this is not part of our policy.
“We need to ensure that as we deal with the coronavirus we don’t neglect people with other health conditions. They need to still be able to access healthcare whenever they need it,” Mangwiro said.
Since the beginning of July, the country’s confirmed Covid-19 cases have exponentially increased and are now nearing 3 000 with 41 deaths and 887 recoveries.
More than 323 health workers, including nurses, have contracted Covid-19 since the beginning of the outbreak in March as local infections continue to rocket.


ZADHR said the turning away of patients was a clear violation of the right to access health as enshrined in the Constitution.
“We continue to note the difficulties being faced by citizens in accessing health services, including access to emergency services. ZADHR has verified reports of citizens who are being turned away from hospitals because they do not have Covid-19 results.
“This is a clear violation of section 76(3) of the Zimbabwean constitution which states that no person may be refused emergency medical treatment in any health institution,” ZADHR.
“While we note the requirement is in place to protect fellow health workers, we advise that public health institutions should have the testing facilities readily available for emergency cases such that patients are not turned away and told to get tested in private institutions.
“In addition, public health institutions should make sure that health workers attending to emergency cases have proper PPE to protect themselves and that adequate infection control guidelines are strictly adhered to,” ZADHR added.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) indicated that due to the Covid-19 lockdown measures, women and children were failing to access medical care especially for sensitive cases including post-rape care.
“Women and children are facing access challenges because of cost of transportation in urban areas, lack of public transport in rural areas, access fees for certain medication, such as antiretroviral drugs (ARV), stigma and teasing at roadblocks, especially for sensitive services such as post-rape care.
“There is a need for advocacy for waiver of access fees for children, adolescents and young mothers when accessing antiretroviral medication,” the humanitarian office said.

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