On World Health Day, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) calls upon state actors and non-sate actors to commemorate the right to good health by joining the World Health Organisation (WHO) in calling for the acceleration of the manufacture and equitable rollout of vaccines in every country.
World Health Day is observed every year on 7 April to highlight the shared global vision of a fairer world in which everyone has access to quality healthcare.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has revealed the stark global inequality that exists with regards to access to quality healthcare. High-income countries that have robust healthcare systems, despite being harshly affected by COVID-19, have been able to respond to the pandemic through the manufacture and speedy rollout of vaccines. In contrast, low-income nations with vulnerable less resilient health systems, have borne the brunt of the suffering caused by the pandemic. This inequity of health outcomes highlights the need for all nations to cooperate on the manufacture of vaccines and their distribution to all persons across the globe as soon as possible. The attainment of a society that is fairer and healthier is dependent on this collaboration of all nations in the fight against COVID-19.
This year, WHO is calling for the acceleration of vaccine equity for all healthcare workers and those who are at highest risk of contracting COVID-19. According to WHO, the best way to end the pandemic, stop future variants, save lives and limit the spread of the virus is to vaccinate quickly and equitably, starting with healthcare workers. Healthcare workers have been at the forefront of the pandemic since its beginning and they remain disproportionately exposed to the virus in comparison to other population groups. Therefore, inclusive vaccination of all healthcare workers is necessary for the prevention of the spread of the virus to the rest of the population.
WHO’s campaign to accelerate the vaccination of healthcare workers and vulnerable groups, such as older people, is titled #VaccinEquity. The campaign calls on everyone to urge global, national and local leaders to ensure that vaccines are equitably distributed in every country. In addition, private companies are being urged to play their part in ensuring that COVID-19 vaccination is accelerated globally in order to ensure that underlying global inequalities do not hinder the attainment of the vision of a healthier society in which everyone has access to quality healthcare. The #VaccinEquity call to action can be fulfilled through donations and support for COVAX and the ACT Accelerator, which are global partnerships designed to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. Moreover, Ministries of Health are urged to invest in their primary health care systems for distribution of vaccines and governments are implored to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are distributed for free and without discrimination to all healthcare workers and especially vulnerable groups as a matter of priority. The campaign also discourages nations from engaging in vaccine nationalism and encourages high levels of collaboration in the manufacture and distribution of vaccines.
Section 76 (1) and 76 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that every Zimbabwean citizen and permanent resident has the right to have access to basic healthcare and that the State must take reasonable legislative and other measures to achieve the progressive realisation of this right. In the context of COVID-19, the right to healthcare extends to access to comprehensive information on the virus. In April 2020, ZLHR obtained an order that compelled the state actors to release updates on COVID-19, information on testing and treatment centres and information on plans and strategies that were being adopted by the state to combat the pandemic. The order also compelled the state actors to provide Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) to frontline healthcare workers.
On this World Health Day, ZLHR calls upon:
- State actors and non-sate actors to commemorate the right to good health by joining the World Health Organisation (WHO) in calling for the acceleration of the manufacture and equitable rollout of vaccines in every country.
- Global, national and local leaders to ensure that vaccines are distributed everywhere.
- Companies to play their part in pushing for an acceleration in the manufacture and distribution of vaccines globally.
- State actors and non-state actors to donate to or support COVAX and Act Accelerator.
- Nations to desist from engaging in vaccine nationalism.
- Manufacturers to share knowledge and vaccines with COVAX and ACT Accelerator in order to expedite the manufacture and distribution of vaccines.
- The Zimbabwean government to fulfil its obligation to take reasonable legislative and other measures to progressively realise the right to healthcare of all Zimbabweans and permanent residents.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
No. 103 Sam Nujoma Street, Harare, Zimbabwe
Phone: (+263 8677005347, +263 242 764085/705370/708118
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