Monday, January 30, 2006

no more Village health workers


A village health worker in the rural district of Chimanimani in eastern Zimbabwe, Mushambi, 51, is one of a fast dwindling breed of dedicated community workers, credited with helping make health accessible to even the remotest village but who now face "extinction", thanks to a severe economic crisis gripping the southern African country for the last six years.

The economic crisis, worsened by acute food shortages threatening a quarter of the 12 million Zimbabweans, has spawned shortages of electricity, fuel, essential medical drugs and just about every basic survival commodity because there is no hard cash to pay foreign suppliers.

With President Robert Mugabe's cash-strapped government forced to divert resources to the importation of key commodities and to servicing mounting debts to the International Monetary Fund, other areas and needs not considered immediately critical have suffered.

Among these have been the village heath workers who now have to go with virtually no support from the authorities in Harare. This,.... ironically at a time village health workers are most required to help combat increasing malnutrition-related diseases because of hunger and not to mention a burgeoning HIV/AIDS crisis that is killing at least 2 000 Zimbabweans every week.

"You know, we even used to get bicycles from the Ministry of Health to use to travel around the villages," Mushambi said, a distinctive yearning for the good old times unmistakable in her voice. And then in a much subdued and drier tone she added: "That was then, nowadays you have to organise your own transport to visit the sick."

The lack of gloves, drugs and other material support aside, Mushambi said the little allowance the government pays health workers was most disappointing even for those like her still wishing to soldier on with their work for the good of their communities.....

Read it and weep...We used to train such workers...they could do simple wound care and treat diarrhea, and screen for malnutrition...and give simple advice and medicines...
Our workers were funded by Oxfam, however, not the government ...

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