We cautiously celebrate the decline in HIV prevalence rates in Zimbabwe over the last few years, taking due cognizance of the fact that 2-3000 Zimbabweans are still dying every week from HIV related causes, and that we still get one new HIV infection every three minutes. The life expectancy of 34 years in women and 37 years in men does not instill a great deal of confidence in our HIV care and treatment programs. The largely man made harsh economic environment is working overtime to ensure the early demise of our very hard working and positive population. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) remains largely the preserve of the rich and powerful, with only less than 20% of the ordinary +/-600 000 Zimbabweans in urgent need of treatment actually able to access it. Waiting periods for ART are still in excess of six months, and many patients die before their turn to receive ART comes. This is most depressing, particularly to our dedicated yet depleted team of health care workers. Laboratory services have all but collapsed, and drug supply in general is very poor.
We must further celebrate the work of NGOs and various Aids Support Organizations for a job well done. Please keep up the momentum.
Rampant corruption, human rights abuses, and some ill conceived programs like the chaotic operation Murambatsvina have further eroded government’s capacity to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Zimbabwe. Extreme poverty and under-nutrition militate against all efforts towards care and treatment of the infected and affected. The high inflation rate and economic decay have placed antiretroviral drugs and laboratory services out of reach for the ordinary private patient accessing care from private pharmacies and laboratories. Our health care delivery system has regressed by 20-30 years, and all the gains of independence have been wiped out systematically. The once vibrant primary health care system is now but a shadow of its former glory.
We challenge the government of Zimbabwe to respect the people’s right to the progressive realization of the right to health, by making availableÂ Â acceptable quality health care within the reach of the people, both geographically and economically. Access to ART and all support services should be a basic entry point. National Aids Council should be well resourced and devoid of any political interference. We need more innovative and committed leadership in ensuring universal access to ART.
We need a leadership that will deal decisively with hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty, which are killing our people many years before their time.
We implore the international community to pay special attention to Zimbabwe in terms of humanitarian aid. Of particular note is the Global Fund For The fight against HIV/AIDS, TB & Malaria. We note your genuine concerns about Zimbabwe, but wish to ask you to reconsider aid to Zimbabwe, with the necessary safeguards and controls of cause. The rich are well taken care of. It is the poor and the displaced who are bearing the brunt of this economic meltdown.
CHANGE DEMANDS ACTION. LET US ALL WORK FOR A NEW ZIMBABWE AND A NEW BEGINNING, NOW IS THE TIME.
Dr. H. Madzorera
MDC Secretary for HealthPost published in: News