Zimbabwe’s Health Minister Says Country Faces Challenges in Expanding Antiretroviral Access Program
Zimbabwe Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa on Wednesday said that although the country is capable of providing antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive people currently enrolled in its treatment access program, it faces obstacles in expanding the program to cover more people, the Herald/AllAfrica.com reports. "The country has enough [antiretrovirals] for those people who are already on treatment," Parirenyatwa said at a ceremony with the U.S. organization Wishkids International, adding, "Our biggest challenge is on expanding the program so that we take a lot of people on board, since when you start taking [antiretrovirals] you have to make sure that you continue doing so for life." Parirenyatwa applauded Wishkids -- which at the ceremony donated medical equipment for use in the country's operating facilities -- and encouraged the organization to continue working with the government to enhance Zimbabwe's health care delivery system. He also urged Zimbabweans living abroad to come up with ways to aid people still living in the country. According to Parirenyatwa, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare this year will aim to stem drug losses through theft, provide essential equipment to medical practitioners and promote behavior change by providing access to HIV/AIDS education, the Herald/AllAfrica.com reports. The donated equipment will be distributed to hospitals in Harare, Mutare, Mpilo and Gutu. The second consignment is expected in the country next month (Herald/AllAfrica.com, 3/15).
Bank Official Compares Zimbabwe's Inflation Rate With HIV/AIDS
In related news, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono in comments published on Thursday by Zimbabwe's Herald compared the country's growing inflation rate, which is the highest in the world, to its HIV/AIDS epidemic, Reuters South Africa reports (Reuters South Africa, 3/15). "Inflation has ceased to be just the No. 1 enemy, it is actually the economic HIV of this country," Gono said, adding, "No single person or institution can deal with inflation. It has to be each and everyone of us doing our part" (AFP/Mail and Guardian, 3/15). Zimbabwe's inflation rate -- which is above 1,700% -- has led to shortages of foreign exchange, food and fuel, and rising unemployment and poverty. About 3,000 Zimbabweans die weekly from AIDS-related illnesses, and one in four children in the country has lost one or both parents to the disease, according to UNICEF (Reuters South Africa, 3/15).