Breakdown hampers HIV fight

parirenyatwa_hospitalHARARE A Zimbabwean doctors organisation said on Wednesday that efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in the country were being hampered by a breakdown of special machines used to calculate when infected people should begin anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy. (Pictured: Parirenyatwa hospital - Has no CD4 count machine

The Zimbabwe Health Workers Association said CD4 count machines at nearly all major public hospitals that service the bulk of the population had broken down forcing many people to visit more expensive private hospitals.

People living with HIV who cannot afford the extortionist charges of private hospitals simply do not visit them and will therefore not be able to take the life saving ARVs, according to ZHWA president Amon Siveregi.

“The CD4 counts machines at Parirenyatwa hospital, Harare hospital and that of Mpilo hospital are all not working,” said Siveregi. The four government hospitals are the biggest in the country. Siveregi added: “At the end of the day many HIV-AIDS patients (have to go) to the private sector hospitals which are more expensive and not all the patients can afford the rates.”

Zimbabwean patients in need of the anti-retroviral drugs at the country’s main referral hospitals are all down thus forcing several thousands of HIV-patients to resort to the more expensive private sector hospitals.

Health Minister Henry Madzorera said his department would repair the broken down CD4 machines as well as buy new ones with help from the United States governments Center for Disease Control.

“We are repairing some these machines we will be procuring more machines. The Center for Disease Control will be giving us more machines,” he said.

Zimbabwe is among countries worst affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, with an estimated 3 000 people dying weekly from AIDS-related illness, according to the National AIDS Council.

According to the councils figures, one in seven Zimbabweans is HIV positive, a sharp drop from the 1990s when the ratio was one in four.

An estimated 1.3 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, 651 402 of them women and 132 938 children under 14 years old, while 260 000 are in urgent need of ARVs.

The collapse of the health sector along with that of the public education system reflects the decayed state of Zimbabwes key infrastructure and institutions after a decade of acute recession.

A unity government formed last February by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has promised to revive the economy and to restore health, education and other basic services.

But the administrations failure to mobilise substantial f

inancial support from rich Western countries could hinder its national reconstruction programme.

Post published in: Analysis

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