Zimbabwe's Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr. David Parirenyatwa, says that the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West have severely compromised the country's health delivery system.
Parirenyatwa is appealing to the ongoing World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, to join the country in calling for the unconditional lifting of these sanctions. He calls the sanctions an unacceptable and unjustified health punishment on the people of Zimbabwe.
Britain, its fellow European Union members and the United States, imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe following the country's land reform program.
Says Parirenyatwa: "Some powerful countries have imposed economic and other forms of sanctions on our country. The knock-on effects these measures are having on the health of the people of Zimbabwe cannot be over-emphasized. As a result of this, the quality of our health services provision has been compromised.
"This World Health Assembly must appreciate the effects of these illegal sanctions against our country because the final consequence is that poor health in Zimbabwe can quickly become a big threat to international health security. Clearly, this health punishment against the people of Zimbabwe is undeserved and for the reasons given above, unacceptable ethically and further compromises health security.
"We urge this World Health Assembly to support our call for the urgent and unconditional lifting of these illegal economic sanctions as they are a threat to international health security," appealed Dr Parirenyatwa.
Dr Parirenyatwa said while there was a fallacy that the sanctions were targeted at individuals, ordinary Zimbabweans, particularly the poor, remained the most affected. The minister appealed to the international community not to shun Zimbabwe in terms of health needs, as this would make the country more vulnerable to international health security.
Dr Parirenyatwa added that despite the punitive sanctions, Zimbabwe continued to make great strides in health delivery with the limited resources at its disposal.
Such achievements, he said, included the decline in the HIV and Aids prevalence from 21 percent to 18,1 percent and the drop in malaria cases from three million to 1,8 million a year.
He said Zimbabwe strictly prescribed to lay down international health regulations for travelers.
"We have well-trained port health authorities who are alert to zoonotic diseases like avian flu. At the same time, suspicious diarrhoeal diseases are screened, among other conditions," Dr Parirenyatwa was quoted.