life expectancy possibly as low as 30 years and with the public health system all but destroyed, Zimbabwe faces a humanitarian disaster.
Most people living with HIV have little or no access to treatment or any medical assistance and adult mortality has risen alarmingly in recent years. The number of orphans and vulnerable children increases on a weekly basis with over 30% of children considered vulnerable. Food shortages, hyper inflation, in excess of 80% unemployment and many households headed by grandparents mean that there is little prospect children will enjoy a healthy and normal childhood.
The incidence of TB has risen faster in Zimbabwe than in the rest of Africa and with erratic and limited TB treatment, drug resistant TB is likely to spread, threatening neighbouring countries as more and more Zimbabweans flee. Malaria control is haphazard and few have access to effective malaria treatment; though this is one area where the South African government has provided practical assistance that benefits ordinary Zimbabweans.
Malnutrition, unsafe water and sanitation and the pitiful state of hospitals, often lacking basic supplies such as antibiotics and painkillers, threaten even the healthiest Zimbabweans. The situation, according to Archbishop Pius Ncube “is utterly disgraceful and has put Zimbabwe back to the dark ages. Mugabe tries to blame anyone and everyone for the current crisis,” he continues, “but it is Mugabe’s greed and demented desire for power that has driven so many Zimbabweans to their early grave.”
The tacit and often explicit support that the Mugabe government has received from almost all African countries has exacerbated the situation, according to the study. Richard Tren, director of Africa Fighting Malaria, considers that “the slow and painful destruction of Zimbabwe could continue for years as long as the political elite in Africa support Mugabe and turn a blind eye to the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans.”
Every election in Zimbabwe is preceded by a dramatic escalation in state-orchestrated violence and already the months leading up to the 2008 elections demonstrate the government is acting brazenly and with impunity. Reported human rights violations between January and July 31, 2006 totaled 3,468; the reported violations over the same period in 2007 have increased by almost 90% to 6,527 incidents.
The government’s most savage mass attack on the opposition to date took place on Sunday March 11, 2007 when officials, supporters and church groups were gathering for a Save Zimbabwe prayer meeting. More than 200 opposition members sustained appalling injuries and many were subsequently denied medical treatment at government hospitals. Those with the most serious injuries had to be flown to South Africa for emergency surgery.
It is against this backdrop that the authors of the report call for strong and firm pressure on Zimbabwe’s neighbours from donor nations and other countries that support democracy and good governance. Among the authors recommendations include a boycott by countries and individuals of the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa because of the Mbeki government’s support for the Zanu PF government.
Roger Bate, fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, considers that “this will send a strong message to political leaders in Africa. It is not acceptable to support a regime that disregards the value of human life in such a way. African leaders expect donor nations to pay for AIDS, TB and malaria treatment in Africa yet they treat the one man that has done immeasurable harm to healthcare as a hero. It is illogical and inconsistent to continue to provide aid to these nations.”
Individuals, sports teams and governments from around the world hastened the end of Apartheid in South Africa with cultural and sporting boycotts. The time has come for similar tactics to rescue Zimbabweans from their current misery and it is clear that boycotting South Africa, because of its strategic importance to the Mugabe regime, is key to securing peace and prosperity in Zimbabwe.
Richard Tren Africa Fighting Malaria, Washington DC
Email: [email protected]; Tel: +1 202 420 1837
Roger Bate American Enterprise Institute, Washington DC
Email: [email protected]; Tel: +1 202 828 6029
Link for report: http://www.fightingmalaria.org:80/pdfs/Zim_Health_Sept_07.pdf
About AFM: Africa Fighting Malaria is a non-profit health advocacy group founded in 2000 and based in South Africa and the United States. Our mission is to make malaria control more transparent, responsive and effective. We conduct research into the social and economic aspects of malaria and raise the profile of the disease and the issues surrounding its control in the local and international media. AFM strives to hold public institutions accountable for funding and implementing effective, integrated and country-driven malaria control policies and to promote successful private sector initiatives to control the disease.