Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Zimbabwe in a health tailspin

If you are not one of President Mugabe's ZANU-PF party supporters, or one of the sycophantic cronies to whom the President regularly allots land or other privileges, you would probably say that Zimbabwe is not doing too well at the moment. The country has the world's highest rate of inflation (900%) and one of world's lowest life expectancies (39 years). Once the breadbasket of Southern Africa, the Zimbabwean government's land reform program damaged the commercial farming sector, and now Zimbabwe has become a net importer of food products -- to the extent that its citizens can afford to pay for them. One should not forget to mention the recent government program Operation Restore Order, supposedly an urban renewal program, in reality a systematic destruction of the homes or businesses of 700,000 mostly poor opponents of the government. Faced with this crisis, the government did the only humane thing: it raised public hospital fees by 333%.

This week finds Zimbabwe running out of AIDS drugs. This is a serious issue, both for the patients and for public health. There are an estimated 180,000 persons in Zimbabwe in need of antiretroviral drugs. Patients that interrupt treatment tend to deteriorate rapidly, and treatment interruption can lead to the development of drug resistant strains of HIV. Those living with HIV/AIDS in the rural areas are especially hard hit, with fuel shortages having led the government to resort to ox-drawn ambulances since 2004.


Blogger sklail said...

The examples of the incompetence of the Mugabe regime grow with every passing day and still the countries of Southern Africa, most notably South Africa, continue to prop up his government. The collapse of Zim has the potential to destabilize the entire region and put the breaks on the economic progress of South Africa, but of course no one ever learns their lesson.

11:37 AM  

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