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The Medical Services Amendment Bill, 2022, is designed to align the Medical
Services Act [Chapter 15:13] with the Constitution. The following are the main
constitutional precepts which the Amendment takes into account—
• the right of every citizen and permanent resident to access basic health
care services including reproductive health care services (section 76(1));
• the right of persons with chronic illnesses to basic health care for the
illness (section 76(2));
• every person’s right to emergency medical treatment in any health
institution (section 76(3));
• every child’s right to health care services (section 81(1));
• the paramountcy of the rights of children to health over parents’ and
guardians’ right to determine the moral and religious upbringing of their
minor children (section 60(3));
• the right of persons over the age of 70 years to receive health care and
medical assistance from the State (section 82(b));
• the obligation of the State to take appropriate measures, within the limits
of available resources, to ensure that persons with disabilities are given
access to medical, psychological and functional treatment (section 83(b));
• the right of veterans of the liberation struggle to basic health care (section
In brief therefore, the Bill amends various provisions of the Act so as to comply
with these various provisions of the Constitution. It is essential to note that, because
some of the rights are subject to the availability to the State, of resources necessary to
enable the enjoyment of the rights, the amendments have been couched so as to take
this into account.
In more detail, the Bill provides as follows:
Clause 1 sets out the short title of the Bill.
Clause 2 amends the definition section by introducing and defining a number of
terms aligned to the terms used in the Constitution. Notable are the following terms—
“basic health care” which explains the kind of health care services are classified
as basic;
“emergency medical treatment” whose definition is necessary because it is now
a basic human right;
“health institution”, The term is used in the constitution.
“reproductive health care” a term which is also used in the Constitution.
Clause 3 inserts a new section dealing with treatment and care for persons under
arrest, detention or imprisonment.
Clause 4 enjoins the Minister to consult with health care providers when fixing
the maximum fees and charges for Government and State-aided health institutions.
Clause 5 inserts a new Part dealing with General Standards and Practices Applicable
in Health Care Delivery. The part spells out-

(a) in 8A information that health institutions must give to patients;
(b) in 8B circumstances where a health service may be provided to a patient
without the patient’s informed consent;
(c) in 8D criminal sanction for the prevention of a child from receiving any
health service which is in the best interests of the child and withholding
consent for any health service by a parent or guardian;
(d) in 8E obligation of health institutions to provide a patient with a discharge
report at the time of the discharge of the patient from health institution;
(e) in 8F rights of patients in relation to health services for experimental or
research purposes;
(f) in 8I obligations of health care providers to set up control measures, a
storage facility and system to prevent unauthorised access to patients’
(g) in 8J mandates every health institution to establish a complaints procedure;
(h) in 8K spells out duties of patients;
(i) in 8L spells out rights of health care personnel.
Clause 6 empowers the Minister, in consultation with the Minister responsible
for finance, to provide incentives to persons who intend to establish health institutions
in marginalised areas.
Clause 7 amends section 12 of the Act to extend the grounds of non-discrimination.
Clause 8 inserts after section 12, a new section dealing prohibition against refusal
of emergency medical treatment.
Clause 9 makes some minor amendments to section 13 of the Act, including the
repeal of the proviso to subsection (1).
Clause 10 empowers the Minister to make regulations in respect of—
(a) the health care to be afforded to persons with chronic illnesses, persons
over the age of seventy years and veterans of the War of Liberation and
persons with disabilities;
(b) the health care packages which shall be available at government primary
health care centres, district health institutions, general health institutions,
provincial health institutions, and central health institutions for specialist
(c) for the purposes of any consultation with the public, the establishment
and composition of a national consultative health forum.

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