THE long awaited Global Fund on HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria is now ready to disburse money to five countries that are still to be named, while working out mechanisms on the rest, a senior World Health Organisation official has said. Zimbabwe is one of the few African countries whose proposal was approved and is set to get $1,3 billion (US$22 million). The first tranche of $55 million is expected to be made available soon.
Equity in Health
Doctors at Zimbabwe's government hospitals have gone on an indefinite strike demanding an 8 000 percent pay increase, their union leader Phibion Manyanga said late in October. Manyanga, who heads the Hospital Doctors Association, told AFP that the strike would go on until their demands were addressed.
The health delivery capacity of public health institutions has been adversely affected by the poor economic environment and some clinics and hospitals are now operating without essential drugs and medical supplies. Zimbabwe's public health sector - once the best in sub-Saharan Africa - is now reeling as a result of neglect and inadequate funding by the government.
The strike by medical doctors and nurses in Zimbabwe is crippling the public health sector, at a time when the poor cannot afford high fees that private hospitals charge. Monica Ngwere, an asthmatic patient from Shurugwi in central Zimbabwe, was last week turned away from Parirenyatwa Referral Hospital in the capital, Harare.
Zimbabwe state doctors went on strike for the third day running in the last week of June, adding to the woes of a struggling healthcare system and the government of President Robert Mugabe. Doctors started strike action in the second city, Bulawayo, complaining that a recent evaluation and pay review of public sector jobs had whittled away their monthly salaries.
The Zimbabwe government's HIV prevention mother-to-child transmission programme (PMTCT) has come under fire from AIDS activists over the slow pace of implementation. But government officials have warned that there was more to the programme than just dispensing nevirapine, the drug that can cut HIV transmission rates by 50 percent. Initially started as a pilot project in three urban sites in 1999, the PMTCT programme has been scaled-up. Thirty-five of the 59 registered health centres throughout the country are now administering nevirapine to HIV-positive pregnant women, Dr Agnes Mahobva, the programme's technical Officer, told IRIN.
Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Timothy Stamps, has turned down a call by the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) to introduce compulsory HIV/AIDS testing of all patients, the 'Daily News' reported on Thursday.
Zimbabwe has passed a new law that criminalises the deliberate transmission of HIV/AIDS, recognises rape in marriages, and imposes heavy penalties for other sexual offenses, AFP reported on Monday.
Zimbabwe's government has declared a state of emergency over HIV/AIDS and will allow the importation and manufacture of generic drugs, a local state-controlled newspaper reported. However, Lindy Francis, director of The Centre, an NGO working with people living with AIDS (PWAs) in Harare said that if true, the declaration was "five years too late".
Figures released by the government last week showing a drop in the number of Zimbabweans infected by HIV/AIDS were only a correction of flawed estimates from previous surveys and did not mean the prevalence of the disease was declining in the country, HIV/AIDS experts said.