Sanctions condemn health sector to sick bed

Beaven Dhliwayo Features Writer
Illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West are no longer targeting few individuals and Government-owned companies as earlier claimed, but are now affecting ordinary Zimbabweans, especially in the health sector.

Interestingly, the sanctions are not only affecting ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe, but fellow African countries recently admitted that they are also feeling the heat.

At the 39th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in August, a bold collective decision was made by all countries in the regional bloc and resolved to declare October 25 as solidarity day against illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

In an article published by The Herald last week, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western countries must be removed as they are not targeted, but are affecting ordinary people.
“It was indicated that the sanctions were targeted, but they were not really targeted because they affected the rest of the community, especially in hospitals,” he said.

“We did not have any medicines, we did not have any laboratory reagents, the X-rays were non-functional, all equipment which was obsolete, we could not replace it so it was very difficult,” said Dr Moyo, in reference to the immediate period following imposition of the sanctions.

He added: “Whenever we wanted to access foreign currency through the banks we could not find it and at the same time the companies, which would normally bring medicines for us in the country could not get any loans from outside Zimbabwe because they were also considered a high risk, so they could not get all the supplies which we required to use in our hospitals.”

It is clear that sanctions which the West claimed were meant for individuals have put health standards in the country in danger of critical decline, due to a shortage of medical supplies and equipment, and access to funding.

More worrying is that banking restrictions imposed by Western countries are causing inordinate delays in the supply of raw materials for domestic medicines.

The sanctions are also creating deficiencies of advanced medicines and top medical equipment to the detriment of patients suffering, especially from cancer, multiple sclerosis and other complications that need specialist attention.

Hospitals in the country, both private and public, now have dilapidated and outdated radiological, laboratory and theatre equipment because of sanctions.

When sanctions affect the health of citizens, it is a reflection of a violation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) Article 12 which recognises “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”.

It is worrying that because of sanctions, which the West continue to say are targeted to a few individuals, the country’s health system has deteriorated, with most of the major referral hospitals reaching their lowest level of service delivery in a lifetime.

There is need to remove the sanctions as they are against humanity. Many Zimbabweans have suffered under these sanctions for decades now.

Ordinary citizens are dying in hospitals because of shortages of life-saving drugs and the West keeps turning a blind eye to the challenges the country is facing.

It is now apparent that the sanctions against the country are amounting to abuse of basic human rights.
Sanctions should be removed as the country’s engagement and re-engagement crusade is gaining momentum.
The country has made it clear that it has taken due note of European Union and other Western countries conditions to be fulfilled in order to be re-admitted to the international community.

President Mnangagwa has opened dialogue with Western countries to re-engage and move forward in harmony and restore public services in the country such as health and education.

The health sector is in a dire situation and citizens are hopeful that the engagements which President Mnangagwa and his administration are embarking on will assist Western countries to have a deeper understanding of the impact of sanctions on the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.

Worth noting again is that Western sanctions are not backed by the UN General Assembly or Security Council resolutions, meaning they are illegal under international law, hence should be lifted to save lives of the people of Zimbabwe.

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