The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has said COVID-19 fuelled the abuse of human rights and negatively affected health service delivery in the country.
The statement comes as the organisation joins the rest of the world today 10 December 2020 in commemorating International Human Rights Day (IHRD) under the theme “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights”.
ZADHR said the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted people’s rights due to the introduction of restrictive measures aimed at controlling the spread of the virus, has not spared Zimbabwe either.
“The advent of the lockdown in Zimbabwe saw citizens being subjected to human rights violations by State security agents deployed to enforce lockdown regulations.
“Further, access to healthcare was impacted as individuals with chronic illnesses and pregnant women were unable to access treatment. Frontline personnel such as healthcare professionals operated with minimum or no access to personal protective equipment, leaving them exposed to COVID-19. To date, over 700 health professionals have been infected by the deadly virus,” ZADHR said.
The human rights advocates in the health sector feel that this year’s theme, which focuses on the need for governments to prioritise the human rights of citizens as they work on the pandemic’s recovery plans, rightfully places the burden of care and responsibility on the State as the primary institution constitutionally mandated to safeguard the rights of citizens.
“The IHRD, therefore, offers an opportunity for the government and all stakeholders to join hands, evaluate and appraise each other on providing human rights-centred strategies to improve response and recovery from the pandemic.
“In that light, ZADHR continues to reiterate that rights-based approaches to the management of pandemics are essential in respecting human dignity and protecting human rights in the design and implementation of response measures.”