Middle East & Africa: Zimbabwe


Zimbabwe is a lush southern African nation located between South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, and Zambia. Formally called Rhodesia, when under British rule, its name means "House of Stones," in reference to the abundant quarries and ancient stone ruins.
Its 12 million people are 50% syncretic (part Christian and part indigenous beliefs), 25% Christian, and 24% indigenous beliefs. Less than1% are Muslim and other miscellaneous religions. English is the official language, but Shona and Sindebele are also spoken.
Zimbabwe gained its independence from the British in 1980. Robert Mugabe has remained president since. His economic reforms and poor leadership have left the country bankrupt and crippled economically. The 1998-2002 war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo drained hundreds of millions of dollars, and Mugabe's land reform program damaged commercial farming, lost 400,000 jobs, and caused a mass exodus of white farmers.
Once known as the breadbasket of Africa, Zimbabwe now faces routine severe food shortages. Gas and foreign exchange are difficult to find. There is 80% unemployment and hyperinflation of over 1 million percent, officially the world's highest. GDP per capita is only $500 annually. About 68% of the population live below the poverty line.
The health care system lacks resources, medicine, and qualified doctors. The average life expectancy is only about 40 years, due to high rates of HIV and other infectious diseases.

Hemophilia in Zimbabwe

There are an estimated 800 people with hemophilia in Zimbabwe, although exact numbers are uncertain. Only 160 have been identified and registered with the Zimbabwe Hemophilia Association (ZHA). Patients are cared for only in Harare and Bulawayo, the two largest cities, at the Parirenyatwa Hospital and Mpilo Hospitals respectively. There currently is no hematologist in the country to help patients.
Most hemophilia patients are poor, and must either depend on free factor, or use fresh frozen plasma or cryo. In a country with such a high rate of HIV and hepatitis, this is a risky treatment.
The Zimbabwe Haemophilia Association was founded in 1988 to serve the needs of people affected by hemophilia. Today the ZHA works diligently in harsh economic conditions to secure donations of blood clotting medicine provide treatment and educate families with hemophilia.