Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Sunday, 13 February 2011 22:10 Opinion
Sanctions have had a devastating effect on Zimbabwe’s social services. Ordinary people have borne the brunt of the West’s illegal measures. One of the sectors adversely affected is the health sector. Former Minister of Health Brigadier Felix Muchemwa explains how the sector has been paralysed.
Balance of payment support
The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare budget has one of the highest foreign currency content for the purchase of essential drugs, medical and surgical sundries, and radiological and laboratory equipment.
In the years 1980-1999, the foreign currency content of the ministry’s budget was met largely by the Balance of Payment Support facility from the IMF, the World Bank and the ADB, amounting to US$200-500 million per annum.
Because of Zimbabwe’s Land Reform Programme, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank suspended the balance of payments support under Sections 4 (a) and 4(d)-(2) (1) of the Zidera sanctions in 2000, and 2001.
Since 2000, Zimbabwe has had a critical shortage of essential drugs, including drugs for HIV/Aids, because of these sanctions.
Today, more than 80 percent of essential drugs in most hospitals, public or private, are out of stock throughout Zimbabwe, including at the Government Medical stores (Natpharm), because of sanctions.
Hospitals, both private and public, now have decrepit and outmoded radiological, laboratory and theatre equipment because of sanctions.
The oncology departments for the treatment of cancer no longer have any scanning X-rays to diagnose or to treat cancer patients.
Cancer drugs are non-existent now in Zimbabwe because of sanctions.
Danida, Sida and other NGOs
Before the year 2000, the Danish government supported the Zimbabwe government through Danida for the Health Services support in the procurement of essential drugs for STI and HIV/Aids.
This meant procurement of anti-retroviral drugs under Zedap, amounting to over US$30 million per annum. Ministry of Health and Child Welfare transport, including ambulances were covered by this budget.
In the year 2000, Danida, in protest against the Land Reform Programme, suspended all funding to this project.
Anti-retroviral drugs for HIV/Aids, anti-malarial and anti-TB drugs have since run out of most infectious diseases hospitals, and in district, provincial and central hospitals throughout Zimbabwe because of sanctions.
The suspension by the Swedish International Development Agency of the Health Sector Support Programme for Water and Sanitation in 2000 because of the Land Reform Programme resulted in the highest death rate ever recorded in Zimbabwe due to cholera in 2008 and 2009 because of sanctions.
The Global Fund for HIV/Aids
Funding under the Global Fund for HIV/Aids has been denied to Ministry of Health and Child Welfare since 2004.
With the exception of Round 5 application in 2006, Round 6 and Round 7 applications for the Global Fund by Zimbabwe were rejected.
Little has trickled recently but that’s a drop in the ocean because of sanctions.
Zimbabwe has never benefited from the World Bank Map initiative for HIV and Aids and the US President’s HIV and Aids initiatives because of sanctions, despite a humanitarian clause under Section 4-(b) (2) (c) of Zidera sanctions.
Comprehensive and targeted sanctions
There are of course targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe under Section 6 of the Zidera sanctions which the Wikileaks have revealed that the EU and MDC have been busy compiling and implementing.
Both the comprehensive Zidera sanctions under Section 4 and the targeted sanctions under Section 6 are complimentary in creating serious critical shortages of essential drugs and equipment.
All Zidera sanctions are not backed by the UN General Assembly or Security Council Resolutions, and are therefore illegal under international law.
All comprehensive and targeted Zidera sanctions are creating critical shortages of essential drugs and equipment leading to high death rate in Zimbabwe’s health institutions.
Sanctions are a silent killer. They must go!