The Green Party has unveiled its policy on human organ transplantation which, if the Party forms government in 2021, it plans to implement.
Unveiling the policy in Kitwe this morning, Party President Peter Sinkamba said time has come to end suffering and unwarranted deaths of patients requiring organ transplants. He said most deaths are uncalled for if government of the day puts in place appropriate measures.
“As you are aware, as the Green Party, we are leaders on medical policy in this country. We lead, others follow. We have numerous examples to give, the medical cannabis policy being one of them. From the medical cannabis policy, we have learnt lessons that the masses out there require time to digest and understand a sensitive policy. Hence, our decisions to announce this policy two years before elections are held. We hope that by the time it is 2021, we would have explained all the twists and turns concerning this policy,” Mr. Sinkamba
“Now, coming to the policy I am unveiling today, you will recall that elsewhere in the world, countless acts of generosity by human organ donors, and their families, as well as the many important scientific and clinical advances achieved by dedicated health professionals, have made organ transplantation not only a life-saving therapy but a symbol of human solidarity. Yet these accomplishments have been tarnished by numerous instances of organ trafficking, of trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal, and of patients who travel abroad to purchase organs from poor and vulnerable people. It was estimated that up to 10% of organ transplants worldwide involved such practices.
“In Zambia, for example, there are reports of citizens who travel abroad allegedly “ukushitisha inshiku” and in turn they are given capital to run businesses. In reality, these vulnerable persons travel abroad for the purpose of organ removal. Sadly, their lives are shortened because they lack appropriate clinical care organ removal procedure and consequently prematurely die,” he said.
“To address the urgent and growing problems posed by these unethical activities, the Green Party in government plans to implement the Human Organ Transplantation policy which goes by the acronym “HOT” policy to guide the review and implementation of the Human Tissue Act of 1962, Chapter 306 of the Laws of Zambia. As you may be aware, the Human Tissue Act provides for examination and use of, or of parts of, bodies of deceased persons for therapeutic purposes and purposes of medical education and research. Its implementation at the moment leaves much to be desired. And regrettably, it does not address human tissues of living donors. So, we will need to correct these aspects,” Mr. Sinkamba added.
He said if the Green Party forms Government, one of the priority activities will be to gather participants from representatives of scientific and medical bodies, government officials, social scientists, and ethicists to review the Human Tissue Act with a view to ensure it is brought to speed with requirements of international medical societies and inter-governmental bodies involved in organ transplantation.
He added that the Green Party in government plans to make human organ transplantation as one of the greatest medical success stories of Zambia since the country gained its independence.
“We plan to use organ transplantation as a key strategy to prolong and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients in Zambia, and globally,” he said.
And Mr. Sinkamba said the Green Party is determined to ensure that expertise of transplant professionals in Zambia, and their colleagues in related fields that the benefits of transplantation is maximized and shared equitably with those in need, without reliance on unethical and exploitative practices that have harmed poor and powerless persons in Zambia and around the world.
“We aim to provide ethical guidance for professionals and policymakers who share this goal,” he added.
He said the Green Party Policy on Human Organ Transplantation will thus complement efforts by professional societies, national health authorities, and inter-governmental organizations such as the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and the Council of Europe to support the development of ethical programmes for organ donation and transplantation, and to prevent organ trafficking and transplant tourism.
The following are key policy points that the Green Party plans to implement:
- The Green Party in government shall develop and implement ethically and clinically sound programmes for the prevention and treatment of organ failure, consistent with meeting the overall healthcare needs of the country.
- The optimal care of organ donors and transplant recipients shall be a primary goal of transplant policies and programmes. In this regard, the Green Party in government will create the Zambia Medical Volunteer Corps for management of organ and blood donations
- Legislation shall be put in place to prohibit and criminalize trafficking in human organs and trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal
- Organ and blood donation shall be financially neutral acts.
- The Human Tissue Act of 1962 shall be reviewed and properly implemented, with subsidiary regulations put in place, to govern the recovery of organs not only from the deceased but also living donors, and to appropriately regulate the practice of transplantation, consistent with international standards.
- The Zambia Medical Volunteer Corps to be created shall oversee, and be accountable for organ donation, allocation and transplantation practices to ensure standardization, traceability, transparency, quality, safety, fairness, and public trust.
- All citizens shall have equitable access to donation and transplant services and to organs procured from deceased and living donors.
- Organs for transplantation shall be equitably allocated within Zambia, in conformity with objective, non-discriminatory, and transparent rules, guided by clinical criteria, and ethical norms.
- It shall be a statutory requirement for health professionals and healthcare institutions to assist in preventing and addressing organ trafficking, trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal, and transplant tourism.
- Government and health professionals shall implement strategies to discourage and prevent citizens from engaging in transplant tourism which has gone on for some time unabated.
- Under the Green Party government, Zambia shall strive to achieve self-sufficiency in organ donation and transplantation. The days when patients have to be placed on waiting-list for several years will be a thing of the past. Countless citizens have ended up dying while waiting on list for an organ donor to come by abroad.