Statement on Access to Vaccines

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association is concerned with the access to Covid-19 vaccines following reports from our members of unavailability of the necessary vaccines at vaccination centers and more so for those that need the second dose putting their health at risk.

Section 76 of the Constitution provides for the right to health care. The constitution provides that every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has the right to have access to basic health-care services. The Constitution further creates an obligation for the State to take reasonable legislative and other measures to achieve the progressive realisation of the rights set in Section 76 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe that guarantees the right to health.

Our Constitution is grounded in international law. Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights  (ICESCR) obliges states to recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. The covenant outlines some steps for the realisation of this right which include the prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases and the creation of conditions which would ensure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness. These provisions are in tandem with Article 16 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter). The Charter states that every individual shall have the right to enjoy the best attainable state of physical and mental health. It creates an obligation for states to take the necessary measures to protect the health of their people and to ensure that they receive medical attention when they are sick.

While we applaud the government for the initiative to procure vaccination drugs, ZimRights has always called on government to provide a clear vaccination plan of action, with details of implementation, time frames and adequate funding for the vaccination programme in the country. It is these details that prove that there is dedication and commitment to saving lives and prevents vaccines shortages in the country. ZimRights has litigated for vaccines and continues with advocacy that will ensure that government procures adequate and safe drugs for its citizens.

In light of the emergence of the new strains of COVID-19 that are more infectious and deadly, ZimRights calls on government to ensure that the right to the most attainable health is guaranteed through the provision of enough vaccines given timely.

ZimRights urges government to adequately finance the health system such that even when faced with pandemics, the right to Health is achieved.

ZimRights call on government to license the World Health Organisation approved vaccines to allow non state players to procure vaccines that are desired as this will increase the availability of vaccines.

ZimRights also implores government to continue with vaccine education especially in rural areas to improve access to Information and for communities to make informed decisions in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic