The Cardboard House

Why are we there?

  • Endemic/epidemic disease
  • Social violence
  • Health care exclusion

Zimbabwe: Latest MSF Updates

Our Work

This is an excerpt from MSF's 2014 International Activity Report:

Access to treatment for HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe has improved in recent years, but remains limited for certain vulnerable groups.

Children with HIV have particular difficulty in obtaining appropriate care. Staff shortages, restricted clinic hours, high fees, and long distances to facilities are some of the barriers that patients face. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has worked with the health authorities to develop integrated care in government health facilities, decentralizing diagnosis and treatment to help meet people’s needs close to home.

In Epworth, Harare, MSF focuses on pediatric and adolescent HIV and tuberculosis (TB), and on providing treatment to patients whose standard HIV or TB treatment has failed. More than 2,660 patients under 20 were tested for HIV and more than 200 were started on treatment. Routine HIV and TB management was handed over to the health ministry in 2014 after more than a year of building up the necessary staff capacity.

MSF’s HIV–TB programs in Buhera, Gutu, and Chikomba concentrated on staff training and mentoring, and provided technical and material support to local health centers to implement new World Health Organization guidelines and increase access to routine viral load monitoring. Testing and antiretroviral (ARV) treatment is now available to everyone and has been decentralized to all clinics in the three supported districts. MSF continued to implement patient-friendly models of care to relieve the pressure on health centers. By the end of the year there were 72 community ARV groups in Gutu, with a total of 477 members, who take turns in picking up drug refills for each other. New strategies were also tried in Gutu to increase the number of people taking HIV tests, including weekly night clinics and testing and counseling campaigns directed at young people or linked with sporting events.

MSF also continued to support viral load testing at the central hospital in Harare, which enables the monitoring of patients on ARVs. UNITAID financed the viral load testing machine and covered its running costs, whilst MSF piloted the implementation. A total of 35,439 tests were conducted in 2014.

In Nyanga district, HIV and TB care was decentralized to 18 out of a total of 21 clinics in 2014.

Psychiatric Care in Prisons

MSF provides diagnosis and treatment of male and female inmates with mental illness at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, Harare. Staff in 10 prisons are also receiving training on the appropriate diagnosis and management of mental illness. MSF ensures that diagnosis and treatment for HIV and TB is available in the prisons via the Ministry of Health.

Sexual Violence Program

Sexual violence is a critical issue in Zimbabwe, which MSF continues to address. In Mbare, Harare, MSF’s clinic for victims of sexual violence offers free medical care, and counseling and referrals for further psychological, social, and legal support.

Program Handovers

MSF’s project in the rural district of Gokwe North decentralized and improved medical care for people with HIV and TB and victims of sexual violence through two hospitals and 18 health care facilities. After three years, during which time 12 facilities obtained accreditation as ARV initiation sites and another six as ARV follow-up sites, the project was handed over to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, as the initial objectives had been achieved. In Harare, MSF has also supported the ministry to decentralize these services, which are now available at six health centers. The team’s recent focus had been on improving care for children with HIV and more complicated cases of HIV and TB. The project was handed over to the ministry in October, as they had the capacity to offer the necessary medical care.

After more than nine years working on HIV in Tsholotsho, the HIV project was handed over to local health authorities in November. The program had achieved its overall goal of treating HIV/AIDS and reducing transmission and related morbidity and mortality. By the end of August, more than 10,400 people were on ARVs, 85 percent of all people in need of HIV treatment in the district.

At the end of 2014, MSF had 362 staff in Zimbabwe. MSF first began working in the country in 2000.

Patient Story

Sikhethklle received PMTCT treatment in Tsholotsho

“Thanks to the prevention program, my daughter was born HIV-free. I was so surprised that I called her Surprise. A nurse gave me the medicine I had to take before, during, and after giving birth, and she told me what I had to do on the day of delivery.

I did everything as the nurse told me, and when I went into labor, I took the two pills that I had been given at the hospital. I remember that day very well!

I am so happy to see her; especially after all the time I suffered while I was sick. At that time I never imagined I could have a baby, but thanks to the prevention program I managed to have my daughter free of HIV. Soon she will be a year old, and she has already begun to take her first steps.”

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