IFHHRO presses for medical delegation to visit Zimbabwe

Utrecht, the Netherlands-- The International Federation of Health and Human Rights Organisations (IFHHRO) today urged the World Medical Association (WMA) to send a delegation to Zimbabwe prior to the upcoming elections, to assess the state of health and human rights abuses in the country.

In a letter to the WMA, IFHHRO expressed deep concern about the rapidly collapsing health care in Zimbabwe, violations of the Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, and about the increasing number of civilians suffering from severe physical and mental harm due to the political violence.

'We therefore urgently request the WMA to send a delegation for a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe without delay, before the upcoming elections,' the letter notes, '...IFHHRO believes that the visit of a WMA delegation to Zimbabwe will make a difference, and will be of important weight for professional and public attention to the suffering of the Zimbabwean people, and as support for our Zimbabwean colleagues.'

The letter builds upon a request made by Dr. Paul Chimedza, President of the Zimbabwe Medical Association, who stated last month at a World Medical Association Council meeting in France that the Zimbabwe Medical Association would welcome a visit from a WMA delegation to see what is happening in his country.

IFHHRO - which represents 25 health and human rights member and observer organisations - worldwide - also stated that it and its member organisation Physicians for Human Rights are prepared to support such a mission financially, and to designate an experienced doctor to join the delegation, should the WMA be open to it.

IFHHRO has commented on the Zimbabwe situation numerous times in the past year. In October 2007 the organisation expressed grave concern about the violence in Zimbabwe during its annual conference in Harare, where WMA's member Zimbabwe Medical Association, among many other organisations, was also present.

Since then, and especially since the March 2008 elections, the situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated rapidly: political violence against members of the opposition in Zimbabwe inflicted by police and armed forces on behalf of the ruling party ZANU-PF has increased, with thousands of casualties, while health professionals can hardly meet the needs of their patients.

For more information please contact:

Adriaan van Esa.van.es@planet.nl