By Nevson Mpofu..
The current looming and fast spreading epidemic is zooming with high costs to the community, nation and Civil Society. The boom of the disease spread stands with the death of 40 people in total up to now. About 3000 people got diagnosed, treated and discharged at Beatrice Infectious Disease Hospital.
Cholera has been declared state of Emergency at a time the country is in Political doldrums, economic melt- down, cash crisis and subsequent poverty increase. The blow will lead to more Absolute poverty, this later impacting on growth and development.
The Health disaster in 2008 cost the Government hefty chunk of money out of national struggling coffers. Since 2008, the Government kept busy talking politics. Part of its responsibility it leaves this for Civil Society to take the lead. Meanwhile, the Government spends time crafting and singing politics.
Up to date disasters have a total cost of US 66 Billion Economic Losses and 29 billion Insured losses. The total amount could be Humanitarian Aid to lift up Health, Education and Agriculture in terms of Food Security .Currently 3,4 million people are in need of food aid in Zimbabwe . Southern Africa alone needs more food aid . Worse still , Sub Saharan Africa and the World with almost 7 and half billion population has almost 4 people vulnerable to hunger and in sheer poverty .
The International Community group of UNITED NATIONS FAMILIES [UNICEF and WHO] Non- Governmental Organizations like World Vision, Red Cross, European Commission, countries like Australia, Netherlands, Switzerland, USA , Denmark and a few provided support . This total amount rose to nearly 6 million spent on Zimbabwe 2008 cholera. UNICEF supplied 360,000 liters of water a day .According to its report at least a total of US 17,500,000 was needed for elimination of the whole cholera outbreak.
World Health Organization Country Representative in Zimbabwe Juliet Nabiyonga said a disaster is said to be looming because a number of people have died. Some, she said have been receiving treatments. However it goes deeper and deeper to a pronounceable disaster which takes more of our budgets, increases poverty and lowers the Gross Domestic Product.
Juliet Nabiyonga highlighted as well on the issue of Anti-Biotic resisting the outbreak of cholera which is expanding in the whole city of Harare. However, it is pathetic to note that it is becoming a country wide issue.
‘’The fact that Anti-Biotic are resisting, means we have a big problem as a nation. This is the big problems we face as a country. Cholera has been declared an Emergency .The Health issue is the No 1 challenge. It means all we have as our resources become part of this problem we currently have in the country.’’, she said.
A Disaster and Risk Management Expert Nathan Nkomo said such kind of disasters like on the issue of cholera remain with the Ministry of Health and Child Care. However, the costs accompanied by this are high . In the case of Cholera, he said it is different from natural disasters like those related to climate change.
‘’Yes. We deal with disasters but with those like related to Climate Change, Elnina and Lanina hazards which lead to severe hunger in communities, starvation in families and famine at Regional levels. Although the Civil Society takes the responsibility in some costs incurred, the Government takes the bigger risk responsibility. When such natural disasters occur , the Government losses million in short space of time , this creates Absolute , chronic , situational and Absolute poverty .’’But on ground there is a possibility that the country has spent more on disasters as compared to the net total amount it needs for its economy restoration , ‘’ he said .
Mahomed Ayoya , UNICEF Country Representative said the Child Rights Organization has done more in Zimbabwe than in some other countries . UNICEF in 2008 drilled boreholes in Budiriro . A lot of Community Health Care workers were trained to train as well Community people.
‘’UNICEF has done more in Zimbabwe to save the life of children in terms of communicable diseases which have adverse Health impacts on children . We helped in drilling boreholes. Secondly we joined hands with other Civil Society Groups to do advocacy, awareness and sensitization.
‘’Our goals and visions lies on achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It all lies on reducing death rate , decrease infant and child mortality and to serve pregnant women . Together with UN PARTNERS we made it work in the Country. ‘’
The big blow Zimbabwe currently faces impoverishes communities and their immediate families. Deep to certain extents, this creates poverty and vulnerabilities. Among many developing countries of the World, Zimbabwe has churned more of its resources on Political and Military activities at the expense of Health. A Political commentator who asked for pseudonym pointed out that the problem in Zimbabwe is they know about the Health disasters and possible crisis at the receiving end when it finally bites. The problem he cited is that more time is spent on politics.
‘’It does not end there. Most commitments and budgets are spent on Military interventions and politics at large. But, then comes, such disasters, they turn to the Health crisis at the same time looking for financial support from donors.
‘’In 2008, UNICEF spent on the issue of Cholera. The Government as well played its role, taking more from what is supposed to be for other programs. This impacts more on the economy. Actually the disaster is man-made rather than being eloquently natural ‘’, he pointed out clearly.
A Health Personnel Edward Rukani said the Government faced many disasters looming to crisis. One good example he cited relates to a time when civil servants rise for their increase in salary. This leads to disaster because clinics and hospitals at last suffer much,
‘’Just look at Health Professionals strikes which occurred in the country in June this year. Nurses took to the streets in mass collective action leaving hospitals in problems. You know that even Medical Doctors did the same. Instead of solving this in time they do it late. This takes more on the Government budget which might not have been there. What kind of a challenge is this? ‘’Terrible Mismanagement of crisis takes more of what we were not expecting ‘’, he concluded in despair. .
Adding a strong voice of comment , Prosper Chitambira LEDRIZ Economist said the share of Income countries spend is greater for high Income countries with Health spending ranging from 1,5% to 13% . Africa contributes lowest, but with several crises emanating from disasters of our man made nature, Zimbabwe is becoming as well like developing countries,
‘’But this is for negative reasons than positive like what happens with developed countries. We have come across several of this disaster. They come at time when we are obviously not prepared. This takes more out of pockets’. ‘However, Zimbabwe’s expenditure on Health is low at national budget level but it is the one with the highest amount. It increases and get stretches when such crisis like cholera comes. This impedes on Economic growth and development finally leading to death, illness and more spending on Health,’’ he said in conclusion.
Africa is 1 billion in total population .Relative to their contribution of 19% of World population, developed countries contributes 85% of the World total spending on Health. Africa’s contribution to the World’s population relates to 3% of the Worlds Health spending.
Zimbabwe’s Allocation Efficiency has become much higher owing attention to communicable diseases upsurge. Secondly, the issue of elnina and lamina contributes to Agricultural, hydrological and meteorological droughts. Disaster repeatedly affects many developing countries due to lack of mitigation and adaptation measures, lack of finance and political will to solve man-made disasters. The country is saving more on Health care, prevention, treatment and support.