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Pharmacists seek amendment of Public Health Act

by Staff reporter
31 Mar 2021 at 06:43hrs | Views
PHARMACISTS have urged Parliament to amend the Public Health Act and incorporate clauses that ensure all professionals in various units of the health sector are considered for top administrative posts in government.

This came out yesterday during an appearance by the Retail Pharmacists Association chairperson Joselyn Chaibva before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health to give oral evidence on their proposal for the amendment of the Public Health Act.

The pharmacists said they also wanted to be considered for top government posts such as permanent secretaries or chief health officers in the Health ministry.

Chaibva said the Public Health Act of 1924 only recognised medical doctors as the only health professionals that were considered for administrative posts in the Health ministry.

"When the Health Professionals Act was enacted, it only covered medical practitioners and dentists, before pharmacists were roped in and then all other health professionals.

"We also acknowledge the important role that health professionals play in the healthcare delivery system where we have clinicians who have strong clinical roles that cannot be underestimated," Chaibva said.

She said the archaic Public Health Act only considered medical doctors and dentists as essential service providers yet the advent of COVID-19 had revealed that laboratory technicians were also pivotal in the fight against the pandemic.

"We have participated and contributed our views on the Public Health Bill of 2017, but we noted that some of our contributions fell by the wayside and our contributions were not included in the final Act.

"It is important for us to remind this august House to relook at the Act so that it addresses the anomalies which have arisen. At the same time, we are also worried about the subtle tribalisation of other healthcare professionals as being second-class in terms of health provision which in our opinion would compromise the morale boost of other healthcare professionals as we are trying to approach the universal health coverage by 2030," Chaibva said.

"Only medical practitioners are allowed to be overall heads of provinces, a post that does not require clinical practice, but it is an administrative post and requires bringing everyone on board. It is our desire to see other healthcare professionals being appreciated equally as important in the medical team and we, therefore, petition Parliament to consider and amend the Public Health Act of 2018 by removing medical practice and replacing it with health practice," she said.

One of the suggestions by pharmacists is that the words "medical practitioner" in section 32 of the Health Professions Act must be removed and replaced with "health professionals".

"Remove the words ‘government medical officer' and replace them with government health practitioner or officer so that the statement reads ‘government health practitioner to be director of health services in rural districts," she said.

Source - newsday