Several Civil Society Organizations – composed by the Citizen Observatory for Health (OCS), Alliance for Health, CESC, Medicus Mundi, NNAMATI, Nweti and PLASOC-M – have recently been received and heard, in Maputo, by the 1st Commission for Constitutional Affairs, Human Rights and Legality of the Assembly of the Republic (AR), the Mozambican parliament.

The hearing comes as a response to the petition submitted to the parliament, in June this year, by these organizations, requesting the intervention of the Assembly of the Republic for the Update and Revision of the Charter of Rights and Duties of the Patient (CDDD), research conducted by the OCS.

The organizations in allusion and several other entities that work in the health area consider the CDDD an outdated document that does not respond to the current challenges experienced by users of the National Health System. In other words, the CDDD is outdated, as well as does not penalize those health professionals who violate the rights of the users.

During the meeting, the organizations put their proposals on the table, highlighting the need to turn resolution 73/2007 into law, so that perpetrators of mistreatment in health facilities are penalized.

According to the coordinator of the Public Participation Pillar in OCS, Antonio Mate, there is a need for the country to carry out a CDDD reform exercise, so that public policies in the health sector are improved.

For Mate, it is in the context of improving the functioning of the SNS that the organizations have come together to present the proposal to the Assembly of the Republic, which has key powers to review the CDDD, a pertinent instrument for the well-being of citizens as users of the SNS.

“We realize the great weaknesses that the health sector presents at the national level and we know what powers the legislature has in the decision-making processes”, Mate said, adding that “before presenting our proposal to the Ministry of Health, we saw the need to approach the legislative power, because it has the power to validate the operation of the instrument.”

The organizations involved in this action, Mate adds, are in contact with the parliament, as well as with the government “because the promotion of public policies in health is needed, for more inclusiveness and human rights.”

According to the coordinator, the need to revise the CDDD arises as a response to the high number of violations of user rights throughout the country. And one of the major concerns of patients has to do with the lack of hospital infrastructure, inaccessibility of medicines, lack of water supply sources, and mechanisms to assist people with disabilities.

“It is a set of barriers that the national health service faces and it is time to update the normative instruments so that the services are dignified, privileging the quality of care, as well as equity and equality in the access to health services”, he said.

 “People with disabilities, for example, face great problems to access hospitals, from the lack of sign language, inexistence of ramps for disabled, as well as the lack of mechanisms to assist children with special needs.”

The coordinator also stated that there are citizens who resort to loans to buy medicines or access health services in general.

Regarding the lack of food for users, which was recorded in a hospital unit, and reported in the media, Mate said that “some normative documents are necessary to penalize and bring mandatory compliance with the measures in accessing health services.”

Notwithstanding the slow pace of the Revision and Update of the CDDD, the coordinator recognizes that there has been openness on the part of the government and parliament but “it is important that this openness brings change.”

“Obviously, the MISAU, who tutors the health area in Mozambique, has the great responsibility to listen to civil society, because it represents those who have no voice”, he stressed.

Parliament is Open to Collaborate

The President of the 1st Committee, Constitutional Affairs and Legality, António Boene, assured that the “House of the People”, will follow up on the proposal presented by the Civil Society Organizations, summoning the Minister of Health to understand the problem behind the CDDD, so that fruitful answers may be sought.

“The solution does not necessarily need a creation of a law, a simple revision of the CDDD can solve these problems”, said Boene, advancing that “in the interaction that we will maintain with the executive, we will know the existing problems in the CDDD and the possible solutions.”

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