This Act was repealed on 2018-08-31 by Public Health Act, 2018.
Public Health Act
- Published in Government Gazette
- Commenced on 1 January 1925
- [This is the version of this document at 31 December 2016 and includes any amendments published up to 31 December 2017.]
- [Note: This version of the Act was revised and consolidated by the Law Development Commission of Zimbabwe]
- [Repealed by Public Health Act, 2018 (Act 11 of 2018) on 31 August 2018]
Part I – Preliminary
1. Short titleThis Act may be cited as the Public Health Act [Chapter 15:09].
Part II – Administration
3. Ministry responsible for public health
4. Establishment of Advisory Board of Public Health
4A. Establishment of District Health Management Committees
5. Appointment of Chief Health Officer and others
6. Local authorities in rural areas
7. Local authorities to appoint medical officers of health
8. Duties of medical officers to local authoritiesEvery medical officer of health to a local authority shall keep himself informed as to the public health and sanitary circumstances of his district, and shall make such inspections and inquiries as may be necessary for this purpose. In addition, he shall furnish the local authority with all information in respect of such inspections and inquiries, and shall also furnish to the Chief Health Officer special reports, when required, relating to the public health or sanitation of his district.
9. Government medical officers to be medical officers of health in rural districtsIn any area where no medical officer of health to a local authority has been appointed, a Government medical officer designated by the Secretary by statutory instrument shall be the medical officer of health for the area specified in such notice and shall carry out the duties imposed by section eight on a medical officer of health, furnishing the information referred to in that section to the Chief Health Officer.
10. Local authority to appoint health inspectorsEvery local authority may, and when required by the Minister, after consultation with the appropriate Minister, shall appoint one or more competent health inspectors to assist in carrying out the provisions of this Act within its district, who shall be subject to the supervision of the medical officer of health.
11. Removal of medical officers and health inspectorsNo medical officer or health inspector appointed by a local authority may, except with his own consent, or in conformity with any enactment relating to retirement on account of age or ill-health, or contract governing his appointment, be removed from office, or have his salary or his emoluments reduced, without the sanction of the Minister first being obtained:Provided that it shall be competent for a local authority to suspend a medical officer of health or health inspector for incapacity, neglect or misconduct, pending the sanction of the Minister as to dismissal; and in the event of such sanction being granted, the said medical officer or health inspector shall be deemed to have been removed from office from the date of such suspension.
12. Local authority failing to appoint medical officer of health or health inspector
13. Combined appointmentsNothing in this or any other Act contained shall be construed as precluding any person from holding at the same time an appointment as—
14. Duties of local authoritiesEvery local authority shall take all lawful and necessary precautions for the prevention of the occurence, or for dealing with the outbreak or prevalence, of any infectious or communicable or contagious diseases, and shall exercise the powers and perform the duties conferred or imposed on it by this Act or by any other enactment.
15. Health committees
16. Defaulting local authorities
Part III – Notification of infectious diseases
17. Notifiable diseasesFor the purposes of this Act, the term “infectious disease” includes any of the following diseases—
18. Notification of infectious disease
19. Notification by medical practitioners
20. Local authorities to transmit return of notificationsEvery local authority shall, at the end of each week and on the form prescribed, transmit to the Chief Health Officer particulars of all cases of infectious diseases and of all deaths from infectious diseases notified to it during the week, and all information which it may possess as to the outbreak or prevalence of any infectious, communicable or preventable disease in its district.
21. Regulations for the notification of infectiousThe Minister may, in respect of the notification of diseases, make regulations as to—(a)the duties of owners or occupiers of land, owners or managers of mines, employers of labour and all chiefs or headmen or others in regard to reporting the occurrence of such diseases, whether infectious or otherwise, as may be prescribed in the regulations;(b)the duties of medical practitioners and other persons in regard to the reporting or notification of such disease, whether infectious or otherwise, as may be prescribed in the regulations;(c)the circumstances in which notification of particular infectious diseases shall not be required;(d)the duties of a local authority in respect of the keeping of registers and records of such notifications;(e)the duties of registrars of deaths in respect of furnishing the local authority with notification of returns of deaths notified with such registrars;(f)the fees payable to medical practitioners in respect of such notifications, and the circumstances in which fees shall or shall not be payable; the forms to be used and the particulars to be furnished by medical practitioners when making such notifications;(g)the forms to be used and the particulars to be furnished by local authorities and other persons when transmitting returns and reports to the Chief Health Officer;and, generally, for the better carrying out and attaining the objects and purposes of this Part. Any person who contravenes any of such regulations shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level four or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.[subsection as amended by section 4 of Act No. 22 of 2001]
Prevention and suppression of infectious diseases
22. Inspection of infected premises and examination of persons suspected to be suffering from infectious diseaseThe medical officer of health of any urban or rural area or any medical practitioner duly authorized thereto by the local authority may at any reasonable time enter and inspect any premises in which he has reason to believe that any person suffering or who has recently suffered from any infectious disease is or has recently been present, or any inmate of which has recently been exposed to the infection of any infectious disease, and may medically examine any person in such premises for the purpose of ascertaining whether such person is suffering or has recently suffered from any such disease.
23. Provision of isolation hospitals, mortuaries disinfecting stations and ambulances by local authoritiesAny local authority may, and if required by the Minister after inquiry, at which the local authority shall have an opportunity of being heard, shall, provide and maintain either separately or jointly with another local authority or with a hospital authority or with the State—
24. Removal to hospital of infected personsWhere, in the opinion of the medical officer of health, any person certified by a medical practitioner to be suffering from an infectious disease is not accommodated or is not being treated or nursed in such manner as adequately to guard against the spread of the disease, such person may, on the order of the medical officer of health, be removed to a suitable hospital or place of isolation and there detained until such medical officer of health or any medical practitioner duly authorized thereto by the local authority or by the Minister is satisfied that he is free from infection or can be discharged without danger to the public health:Provided that the cost of the removal of such patient and of his maintenance at the hospital may be recovered by the local authority from the said patient or his estate or, in the case of a minor, from his parent or guardian, if it can be shown that the said patient or his estate or, in the case of a minor, his parent or guardian is in a position to defray such cost.
25. Infected persons sent for treatment from other districtsIn the case of any patient suffering from any infectious disease being sent into the district of any local authority for isolation and treatment in any hospital or place of isolation maintained by such local authority from any other district, whether urban or rural, the first-mentioned local authority may recover from the local authority of the district sending the patient the cost of maintenance, nursing and treatment of the patient, and the cost of burial in the event of the death of the patient.
26. Measures to be adopted by local authority in case of infectious diseaseWhere a person suffering from an infectious disease is within the district of a local authority, it shall be the duty of that authority to ensure that adequate measures are taken for preventing the spread of the disease, including, where necessary, provision for the accommodation, maintenance, nursing and medical treatment of the patient in a hospital or place of isolation until he has recovered or is no longer a danger to the public health or, in the event of the death of the patient, provision for the removal and burial of the body.
27. Power of local authority to order or carry out disinfection
28. Removal to cleansing stations of dirty and verminous personsWhere a cleansing station is provided within the district of a local authority or within a reasonable distance therefrom, any person within that district certified by a medical officer of health, school medical inspector or other medical practitioner, or by a certificated health inspector, to be dirty or verminous may, on order of the medical officer of health, be removed, together with his clothing and bedding, to such cleansing station and be cleansed therein.
29. Removal ordersAn order made under section twenty-four or twenty-eight may be addressed to any duly authorized officer of a local authority or any police officer. Any person who wilfully obstructs the execution of, or fails or refuses to comply with, any such order shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level four or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.[section as amended by Act No. 22 of 2001]
30. Exposure of infected persons or thingsAny person who—
31. Conveyance of infected persons in public conveyances
32. Infected dwellings not to be evacuated or let without previous disinfectionNo person shall cease to occupy or shall let any dwelling or premises or part thereof in which to his knowledge there is or has recently been any person suffering from any infectious disease without having the same, and all articles therein which are liable to retain infection, efficiently disinfected to the satisfaction of the local authority and in accordance with any regulations in force in the district. This section shall apply to any owner or keeper of a hotel or boarding-house who lets any room or part thereof to any person.
33. Removal of bodies of persons who have died of infectious disease
34. Removal and burial of bodies of persons who have died of infectious disease
35. Regulations regarding infectious diseases
Special provisions regarding formidable epidemic diseases
36. Formidable epidemic diseasesThis Act, unless otherwise expressed, in so far as it concerns formidable epidemic diseases, shall be deemed to apply to plague, Asiatic cholera, epidemic influenza and any other disease which the Minister may, by statutory instrument, declare to be a formidable epidemic disease for the purposes of this Act.
37. Notification of suspected cases of formidable epidemic diseasesMedical practitioners, principals of schools, heads of families or householders, employers of labour, owners or occupiers of land or premises, chiefs, headmen and others shall report to the local authority or district administrator, as the case may be, the occurrence of any case of illness or death coming to their notice and suspected to be due to any formidable epidemic disease, or with a history or presenting symptoms or post-mortem appearances which might reasonably give grounds for such suspicion. Any person failing to make such report shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.[section as amended by Act No. 22 of 2001]
38. Notification of sickness or mortality in animalsEvery person who becomes aware of any unusual sickness or mortality among rats, mice, cats, dogs or other animals susceptible to plague or other formidable epidemic disease, not due to poison or other obvious cause, shall immediately report the fact to the local authority. Any person who fails to make such report shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.[section as amended by Act No. 22 of 2001]
39. Local authorities to report notification of formidable epidemic diseases by telegraphEvery local authority shall immediately report to the Chief Health Officer, by telegraph or other expeditious means, particulars of every notification received by such authority of a case or suspected case of any formidable epidemic disease, or of any unusual sickness or mortality in animals, made under section thirty-eight.
40. Powers of Minister where local authority fails adequately to deal with any formidable epidemic diseaseWhenever upon the report of the Chief Health Officer it appears to the Minister that an outbreak of a formidable epidemic disease or a disease suspected of being such has occurred or is threatened within the district of a local authority and is not being investigated or dealt with efficiently and so adequately to safeguard public health, the Minister, notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, may inform the local authority of the measures which he considers should be taken in connection therewith, and if the local authority fails or is for any reason unable forthwith to carry out such measures to his satisfaction, may authorize the Chief Health Officer or any other local authority to take all necessary steps for dealing with the outbreak, and thereupon such officer or local authority shall, for the said purpose, possess all rights and powers of the local authority in default, subject to the obligations attaching to the exercise thereof, and any portion of the expenditure so incurred which is payable by the local authority may be recovered from the local authority in the manner described in subsection (2) of section sixteen.
41. ***[section repealed by Act No. 22 of 2001]
42. Regulations regarding formidable epidemic diseases
43. ***[section repealed by Act No. 22 of 2001]
44. Appointment of epidemic committees
45. Advances of local authorities
46. Refunds to local authoritiesThe Minister may authorize—
Part IV – Venereal diseases
47. Application of Part IVThis Part shall apply to al sexually transmitted diseases except such diseases as the Minister may specify by statutory instrument.[section substituted by section 12 of Act 12 of 1997]
48. Duties of medical practitioners
49. Duties of medical officers of health and Government medical officers to report, and powers of district commissioners
50. ***[section amended by section 12 of Act 12 of 1997]
51. Detention in hospital of infected persons
52. Medical examination of inhabitants in areas where sexually transmitted disease believed to be prevalentWhere the Minister, on a report by the Chief Health Officer, has reason to believe that sexually transmitted disease is prevalent amongst the residents in any premises or locality, he may issue an order requiring the examination by a medical practitioner of any person or of persons of any specified class or description residing therein. Any person who refuses to comply with such order or with any lawful instructions given thereunder, or who obstructs any medical practitioner or other duly authorized officer in the carrying out of such order, shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level four or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.[section amended by section 12 of Act 12 of 1997]
[section as amended by section 4 of Act No. 22 of 2001]
53. Examination of females by women medical practitionersWhere any order is made under this Part requiring the medical examination of any female over the age of twelve years and such female desires to be examined by a woman medical practitioner, such examination shall be made by a woman medical practitioner if one is reasonably available.[section amended by section 12 of Act 12 of 1997]
54. Rights of persons detained in hospitalAny person detained in hospital under this Part shall be entitled to arrange, at his own expense, for his examination by any medical practitioner, and a report of such examination shall be furnished to the district administrator, who may thereupon cause to be made any further examination of such person which he may deem necessary. No person shall be detained in hospital under this Part who is not, or is no longer, infected with a sexually transmitted disease in a communicable form.[section amended by section 12 of Act 12 of 1997]
55. Proceedings to be in camera, and reports not to be publishedInquiries and proceedings before a district administrator or any court of law under this Part shall be secret and conducted in camera, and the records thereof shall be kept in the manner and form prescribed, anything to the contrary notwithstanding in any other law. Any person publishing or divulging the name of any person dealt with under this Part or the nature of the charge or evidence or the results of such inquiries or proceedings or the contents of any report, certificate, document or order in connection therewith or any other matter coming to his knowledge in connection with anything arising under this Part to any unauthorized person, and any person who, without lawful justification or excuse, falsely alleges that any person is infected or has been infected with a sexually transmitted venereal disease, shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.[section amended by section 12 of Act 12 of 1997 and by section 4 of Act No 22 of 2001]
56. Publication of advertisements of cures
57. Contributions and facilities for diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseaseThe Minister, subject to regulations which he is hereby authorized to make, and which may deal with the procedure to be followed, the conditions to be complied with and any other matters necessary for the proper carrying out of this section, may—
Part V – Internation Sanitary Regulations
59. Publication of International Sanitary Regulations and amendments thereto
60. Power to carry out and apply International Sanitary RegulationsThe President may—
62. Power to apply regulations to any infectious disease
63. JurisdictionAn offence under any regulation shall, with regard to the jurisdiction of a court to try the offence, be deemed to have been committed in any place where the accused happens to be.
Part VI – Water and food supplies
64. Duty of local authority to furnish water supplies
65. Water works not to be commenced until approved by State
66. Local authority to maintain existing water supplies in good orderAll water works vested in any local authority shall be maintained by the local authority in a condition for the effective distribution of a supply of pure water for drinking and domestic purposes.
67. Powers to inspect water supplies
69. Sale of unwholesome, diseased or contaminated articles of food prohibited
70. Regulations regarding sale of milk and articles of food
71. Minister’s powers to make orders
72. ***[section repealed by Act No. 22 of 2001]
Part VII – Infant nutrition
73. Interpretation in Part VIIIn this Part—“feeding article” means a bottle, teat, measuring device or other utensil or article designed to be used in preparing infant food or feeding infant food to infants;“health worker” means a person who—(a)is employed in a hospital, nursing-home, clinic, surgery, creche, nursery or other institution wherein health care, treatment or attention is provided for pregnant women, mothers or infants; or(b)is a medical practitioner or is employed by a medical practitioner in connection with his practice as such; or(c)performs any work, whether as a professional or non-professional and whether paid or not, in connection with the health of pregnant women, mothers or infants;“infant” means a child under the age of seven years;“infant food” means any food, including dairy produce as defined in the Dairy Act [Chapter 18:08] which is—(a)sold for consumption by infants; or(b)represented by its manufacturer or seller as being suitable for consumption by infants;“label” means any brand, mark or written or pictorial or other descriptive matter that appears on or is attached to or packed with, and refers to, any infant food or feeding article or the package thereof;“market”, in relation to any product, indudes to promote, distribute, advertise or sell such product or to provide public relations or informational services in connection with such product;“package” means anything in or by which any infant food or feeding article is covered, enclosed, contained or packed;“sell” includes—(a)for the purposes of sale, to offer, keep, possess, expose, display, transmit, consign, convey or deliver;(b)to authorize, direct or allow a sale;(c)to barter, exchange, supply or dispose of for any consideration, direct or indirect.
74. Regulations in respect of infant nutrition
Part VIII – Slaughter-houses
75. Interpretation in Part VIIIIn this Part—“slaughter-house” includes any abattoir, knacker’s yard, slaughtering poles or place set apart for slaughtering animals, the meat of which is intended for sale.
76. Local authority may license slaughter-houses
77. Local authority may refuse licences and appeals against refusals
78. Licence required for use of premises as slaughter-house
79. Cancellation of licenceIf the holder of a licence for a slaughter-house is convicted of contravening this Act, the local authority which issued the licence may forthwith cancel the licence held by such person.
80. Prohibition against sale of meat which has not been slaughtered in a slaughter-house
81. Inspection of meat and fees for inspection
Part IX – Sanitation and housing
82. Nuisances prohibitedNo person shall cause a nuisance, or shall suffer to exist on any land or premises owned or occupied by him, or of which he is in charge, any nuisance or other condition liable to be injurious or dangerous to health.
83. Local authorities to maintain cleanliness and prevent nuisancesIt shall be the duty of every local authority to take all lawful, necessary and reasonably practical measures for maintaining its district at all times in a clean and sanitary condition, and for preventing the occurrence therein of, or for remedying or causing to be remedied, any nuisance or condition liable to be injurious or dangerous to health, and to take proceedings at law against any person causing or responsible for the continuance of any such nuisance or condition.
84. Local authorities to prevent or remedy danger to health arising from unsuitable dwellingsIt shall be the duty of every local authority to take all lawful, necessary and reasonably practicable measures for preventing or causing to be prevented or remedied all conditions liable to be injurious or dangerous to health arising from the erection of or occupation of unhealthy dwellings or premises or the erection of dwellings or premises on unhealthy sites or on sites of insufficient extent, or from overcrowding, or from the construction, condition or manner of use of any factory or trade premises, and to take proceedings under the law or regulations in force in its district against any person causing or responsible for the continuance of any such condition.
85. What constitutes a nuisanceThe following shall be deemed to be nuisances liable to be dealt with in the manner provided in this Part—
86. Notice to remove nuisance
87. Procedure where person fails to comply with notice
87A. Local Authorities failing to deal with nuisances
88. Penalties in relation to nuisances
89. Court may order local authority to execute works in certain casesWhenever it appears to the satisfaction of the court that the person by whose act or default the nuisance arises or that the owner or occupier of the premises is not known or cannot be found, the court may at once order the local authority to execute the works thereby directed, and the cost of executing the same shall be a charge on the property on which the said nuisance exists.
90. Examination of premisesThe local authority or any of its officers or, on the order of a district administrator, any police officer may at all reasonable times enter any building or premises for the purpose of investigating as to the existence of any nuisance therein; and the local authority or any of its officers may, if necessary, open up the ground of such premises and cause the drains to be tested or such other work to be done as may be necessary for the effectual examination of the said premises:Provided that if no nuisance is found to exist the local authority shall restore the premises at its own expense.
91. Persons making complaint of nuisance
92. Demolition of unfit dwellings
93. Prohibitions in respect of back-to-back dwellings and rooms without through ventilation
Part X – General
95. Contributions to cost of laboratories and voluntary associations concerned with public healthThe Minister, subject to such conditions as he may in each case fix and determine, may—
96. Powers and duties of Chief Health Officer and assistant health officersEvery assistant health officer of the Ministry may, with the authority and on behalf of the Chief Health Officer, discharge any of the duties or functions of the Chief Health Officer, and any duties imposed or powers conferred by this Act on Government medical officers may be carried out or exercised by the Chief Health Officer or any assistant health officer of the Ministry.
97. Reciprocal notification and consultation between Ministry and Veterinary Department
98. Domicile of persons for purposes of this ActWhere any question arises as to the domicile of any person for the purposes of this Act, it shall be referred to the Minister, whose decision thereon shall be final and conclusive.
99. Contracts in respect of dwellings not to be affectedExcept as specially provided in subsection (5) of section eighty-seven and subsection (4) of section ninety-two, nothing in this Act shall prejudice the remedies of any owner or occupier of a dwelling or premises for the breach, non-observance or non-performance of any contract entered into by an owner or occupier in respect of which dwelling or premises an order has been made by the court or a local authority under this Act.
100. Savings as to recovery of damageSubject to section one hundred and one, nothing in this Act shall be construed as depriving any person of any right which he may possess to institute legal proceedings and to obtain damages in any court of law for loss or injury sustained through the neglect of any local authority or any person to perform any duty imposed by this Act or otherwise.
101. Protection of State and local authoritiesWhenever, in the exercise of any power conferred or in the performance of any duties imposed upon the State or any officer thereof or a local authority or any officer thereof under this Act or any other law relating to public health, he or it is alleged to have caused injury to any person or damage to any property or otherwise to have detrimentally affected the rights of any person, whether in respect of property or otherwise, it shall be a defence in any legal proceedings founded on such an allegation and brought against the State or its officer or a local authority or its officer that the defendant or respondent has used the best known or the only or most practicable and available methods in the exercise of the power or the performance of the duties aforesaid. In the case of such proceedings against a local authority a certificate signed by the Chief Health Officer that the defendant or respondent has, when regard is had to all the circumstances, used the best known or the only or most practicable and available methods shall be accepted by the court as prima facie evidence of that fact.
102. Protection of officersNo report made or action taken or thing done by the Minister or by a Government health officer or medical officer of health or approved veterinary surgeon or health inspector or any generally or specially authorized officer of the State or of a local authority in the exercise of any power conferred or the performance of any duty imposed by this Act shall subject him in his personal capacity to any legal proceedings whatsoever, provided such report was made or action was taken or thing was done in good faith and without negligence.
103. Powers of entry and inspection of premises and penalties for obstruction
104. Penalties for fraudulent conduct in connection with certificates under this ActAny person who—
105. Penalties where not expressly providedAny person guilty of an offence against, or contravention of, or default in complying with, any provision of this Act shall, if no penalty is expressly provided for such offence, contravention or default, be liable to a fine not exceeding level four or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.[subsection as amended by section 4 of Act No. 22 of 2001]
106. Burden of proof as to knowledge of infectionIn any legal proceedings, criminal or civil, under this Act relating to an infectious or communicable disease, or to any article or thing alleged to have been exposed to or contaminated with the infection thereof, whenever it is an issue in the proceedings that the accused or the defendant knew that he or any other person was infected with such disease, or that such article or thing had been so exposed or was so contaminated, he shall be deemed to have had such knowledge unless he satisfies the court to the contrary.
107. Defect in form not to invalidateNo defect in the form of any notice given or order made under this Act shall invalidate or render unlawful the administrative action, or be a ground for exception to any legal proceedings which may be taken in the matter to which such notice or order relates, provided the requirements thereof are substantially and intelligibly set forth.
108. Service of noticesWhenever under this Act any notice, order or other document is required to be given to any person, the same shall be deemed to be sufficiently served if sent by registered post addressed to him at his last known place of abode or left thereat with him personally or with some adult inmate thereof; and in the case of a notice, order or other document required to be given to an owner or occupier of land or premises whose abode, after inquiry, is unknown, the same shall be deemed to be sufficiently served if posted up in some conspicuous place on such land or premises. It shall not be necessary in any notice, order or other document given to an owner or occupier of land or premises to name him, but the notice, order or document shall describe him as the owner or occupier of the land or premises.
109. Powers of local authority outside its districtNothing in any law specially governing any local authority shall be construed as preventing such local authority from exercising any power or performing any duty under this Act by reason only that in exercising such power or performing such duty it must do some act or thing or incur expenditure outside its district.
110. Provisions of this Act in relation to other lawsSave as is specially provided in this Act, this Act shall be deemed to be in addition to and not in substitution for any provisions of any other law which are not in conflict or inconsistent with this Act. If any other law is in conflict or inconsistent with this Act, this Act shall prevail.
111. Scope and application of proclamations and regulations
112. Application of Act to StateNothing in this Act contained shall be construed as conferring any powers or imposing any duties upon a local authority in respect of any land or premises owned or occupied by the State for military purposes.
113. ***[section repealed by section 4 of Act No. 22 of 2001]
History of this document
31 August 2018
Repealed by Public Health Act, 2018
31 December 2016 this version
01 January 1925