Tuesday, 16 June 2020

DON'T NAME ESCAPEES : WORKING GROUP ON HEALTH


NAMING Covid-19 quarantine centre escapees is a violation of their rights which may lead to stigma and discrimination, the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) has said.

This comes amid concerns that a number of people are fleeing from quarantine centres which were created to stop the spread of the global pandemic.

In recent weeks, most of the Covid-19 positive cases recorded in the country involve people returning mostly from South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique

A total of 169 returnees have escaped from quarantine centres countrywide, posing challenges in efforts to reduce Covid-19 cases.

The offence is a violation of Section 6 (4)(b) of the Statutory Instrument 77/20, cited as the Public Health (Covid-19 prevention, containment and treatment regulations) 2020.

It is mandatory for all people returning to the country to be quarantined.

“While we totally agree that non-disclosure of the escapees’ names represents a threat to public health, we believe that approach causes more public damage than good through exacerbating stigmatisation and discrimination of both the escapee and the immediate families,” says CWGH director Itai Rusike.

The organisation said the naming also violates the guarantee of patients’ confidentiality since some of them might be infected with Covid-19 disease. 

“The CWGH calls on the Government to use a human rights-based approach when dealing with the escapees since they are also constitutionally entitled to the same rights enjoyed by everyone. In addressing the issue of escapees, the Government must be guided by the Public Health Act (PHA) which states that all information concerning a user, including information relating to his or her health status, treatment or stay in a health establishment is confidential,” said Mr Rusike.

CWGH called on the Government to use a human rights-based approach when dealing with the escapees since they are also constitutionally entitled to the same rights enjoyed by everyone.

“In addressing the issue of escapees, the Government must be guided by the Public Health Act (PHA) which states that all information concerning a user, including information relating to his or her health status, treatment or stay in a health establishment is confidential,” said Mr Rusike.

He added that quarantine centres must have basic facilities like decent accommodation, enough food, blankets and cost of PCR testing must be carried by government.

“It is also the role of the government to ensure that all the returnees are tested for Covid -19 and it must not dump that responsibility to individuals. Sadly, some of the inmates may even get infected with Covid-19 whilst in the quarantine centres due to the poor observation of the social distancing measures, hand washing and generally poor hygiene standards.” Chronicle

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