Zimbabwe’s health challenges
Rebuilding the country’s shattered health system will be a mammoth task
The much publicised cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 4000 people and infected 88 000 since August has highlighted the dire state of Zimbabwe’s health system. Once the envy of the southern African region, Zimbabwe’s public hospitals are now often little more than stripped shells. Harare’s Central Hospital closed down its intensive care unit six years ago, and lack of food, drugs, and equipment forced the closure of the children’s ward in October.1 Patients lucky enough to find a functioning hospital to admit them have reported being asked to bring blankets, food, drips, and bandages. Some rural clinics do not even stock paracetamol.
In the past few years doctors and nurses have repeatedly gone on strike over wages, which often fell below $10 (£7; €8) a month. Many have joined the steady exodus of professionals from the country, seeking employment in neighbouring South Africa and further afield in Europe and the