Zimbabwe and COVID-19

Photo of disposable gloves hanging out to dry overnight for resuse.

Hi, Everyone – People ask me about what is happening in Zimbabwe with regard to the COVID-19 epidemic. On 22 March, the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Care reported two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.

I received a message today from Ele Aralla, a woman from Italy who has worked 5+ years in Zim with the Catholic NGO CAFOD, which is based in the UK and works to provide clean water and improve sanitation.

Ele introduced herself to me by email last August when she invited friends to donate to BHA to help St Albert’s in lieu of a gift for her birthday. Dr Lowell Schnipper and I met Ele in Harare for lunch during our trip to Zimbabwe last November. She is a warm, dedicated, compassionate woman. One of those who is an honor to meet…one of the advantages of work in global health.

Fortunately, her town, mentioned in her note, Lecce, also known as the Florence of southern Italy, is near the end of heel in Italy, far from Lombardy in the north where the epidemic is extremely serious.

The message from Ele Aralla to friends in Zimbabwe

Dear friends, this is to let those of you who don’t yet know that my NGO decided to evacuate us from Zim to my home country, Italy. We left in a hurry two days ago and after an endless but luckily successful trip we are now in Lecce. It was a hard decision to make but we think it was the right one for us under the circumstances. We hope we will be able to return not too far away in the future once this is all over. For the time being we will be in strict quarantine for 15 days then will try to find a new normal in a lock down Italy in amongst all this madness. Meanwhile, we will miss you all and will be thinking of you. Please do let us know whether there is anything we can do for you from here.
Stay safe and keep in touch,
love Ele, Doug & the kids

Replacing solar batteries to keep lights on

Here at Better Healthcare for Africa, we are using funds raised by oncologist Dr. Schnipper, a BHA board member who has visited Zimbabwe with me every year since 2013, supplemented with funds from BHA, to provide $18,000 to enable St Albert’s to purchase 26 solar batteries that keep hospital’s lights on during the frequent power outages. Their current batteries are depleted and no longer hold a charge.

For weeks the nurses and doctors have worked by candle or lantern light in the wards at night. Dr. Schnipper in particular is working to bring them light again soon.

Ongoing need for basics

Zimbabwe’s collapsed national economy leaves doctors and staff without basic drugs and supplies, in addition to coping with hunger and drought. Water shortages leave people in remote areas no choice but to consume water that may be contaminated and cause disease.

I don’t mean to be depressing, but these are real conditions that people face there. I remind myself of this regularly to give me perspective on conditions here at home.

A week or so ago, Dr. Musariri at St. Albert’s wrote that the rains were inconsistent this year and that the crops would be insufficient to feed the people, so hunger looms, as well as continues.

This is an extraordinary, transformative time for us all. Given all the needs you are facing, if you can donate to BHA to help us continue to help Dr. Julia Musariri, please visit https://betterhealthcareforafrica.org/donate.

Thank you, stay safe and keep well…Darrell