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UK's Lancet: Political Will Needed to Revamp Zimbabwe's Ailing Health Sector

Britain's prestigious medical journal The Lancet says Zimbabwe’s public health care system, in times past a model for Africa, has fallen on hard times due to misgovernance and a collapsing economy, with a steep decline in key health indicators over the past two decades.

The Lancet article was written by the former chairman of the University of Zimbabwe Medical School, Dr. Charles Todd, who now works for Britain’s National Health Service.

The report said hospitals are now functioning again but shortages remain widespread such that patients must bring their own drugs and intravenous fluids as well as food.

It said the government must prioritize the re-establishment of essential services including emergency obstetric care in all of the country's districts, which means refocusing the work of main referral hospitals in the larger cities on providing secondary care.

The Lancet report urged the resuscitation of the Health Services Fund to fund district teams to maintain effective health services.

Health activist Itai Rusike of the Community Working Group on Health told reporter Sandra Nyaira that political will is needed to address the many issues affecting health care.

Elsewhere, a report from the Southern Africa AIDS Information Dissemination Service or SAFAIDS, in collaboration with Irish AIDS, said home based HIV/AIDS care programs have been hit hard by the economic crisis in recent years, which has put at risk the lives of caregivers who kept on taking care of patients without adequate protection.

Studio 7 correspondent Sylvia Manika reported from Harare.

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