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Challenges: Zimbabwean Governmental policies present obstacles to
treatment for HIV-Positive residents
November 09, 2005
a lack of foreign currency to purchase medications and an urban
renewal program that has displaced poor residents are preventing
HIV-positive Zimbabweans from seeking and receiving care, the
Tribune reports. According to U.N. statistics, more than
one-fourth of Zimbabwe's 12.7 million citizens are HIV-positive
and up to 3,000 people are infected each week. In the last three
months, the cost of a month's supply of generic antiretroviral drugs
has increased from $7.70 to $17 or more because of "hyperinflation,"
according to a U.N. report.
laborer in Zimbabwe earns about $20 a month. The Zimbabwean Ministry
of Health provides subsidized drugs to some HIV/AIDS patients, but
funding often is "woefully inadequate," and a national program announced
last month to provide medications has a budget of less than $2 million,
the Tribune reports. Varichem Pharmaceuticals, which
manufactures generic antiretrovirals in the country, announced last
month that it no longer will produce the drugs because it lacks
U.S. currency to pay for raw materials.
to the country has decreased largely because Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe "distrusts" outside groups, the Tribune
reports. In Zambia, HIV-positive patients each receive an average
of $184 annually in foreign aid assistance, compared with an average
of $4 per patient in Zimbabwe. In addition, Mugabe's urban evictions
campaign -- called "Operation Murambatsvina," which means "drive
out the filth" -- has forced many HIV-positive shantytown residents
into the countryside, where there is little access to antiretroviral
treatment (Salopek, Chicago Tribune, 11/7). The government
began the evictions in May and used bulldozers to demolish shops
and homes. About 700,000 people were left homeless (Kaiser
Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/13).
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