Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has attributed challenges people are facing in the health institutions and services concerning health rights to lack of Access to Information Law (ATI).
This came to light during a two-day ATI advocacy and engagement meeting on heath rights issues in Salima under Promotion of High Quality, Accountable and Responsive Public Health Service project being implemented in Chitipa and Karonga districts.
During the meeting, representatives of CCJP, Human Rights Commission, Media Institute for Southern Africa and the office of the Ombudsman emphasised that access to information is one of the measures to ensure that health needs of Malawians are met. They faulted the Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology for delaying to gazette the law’s commencement date, saying that is infringing upon health rights of Malawians.
Malawi Human Rights Commission director of civil and political rights Peter Chisi said the delay has a big impact on access to quality healthcare in the country.
“The law assigns to the Minister of Information and Communication Technology the mandate to set and publish in the gazette the commencement date for the law.
“As we are talking, the ministry has not done so despite that Parliament passed the Bill into law on 14th December 2016 and the presidential assent of the law was done on 10th February 2017 and was gazetted on 16th February the same year. The minister is holding this law from being operational due to the delay and people continue to face challenges in health service delivery,” he said.
Chisi added that people see problems in the health system like shortage of drugs in hospitals and health centres, indiscipline and misbehavior by health workers, but they don’t know how to participate in addressing such problems which leads to inefficiency in the health sector. As an oversight institution in the implementation of the law, the commission is convinced that all preparatory work in readiness for the operation of the law has been adequately done and is ready for the operation of the law
CCJP desk officer for Karonga Diocese Louis Nkhata described the delay as unfortunate. “The project has established that people’s health rights are being violated as there is a lot of abuse and robbery of drugs, for example, because people cannot participate in the management of health budgetary and policy information process and expenditure of their health institutions,” he said.