Conserving Life in Rural Zimbabwe

August 1, 2014
  • Interviewee
  • Author
zim newsletter pic

Hwange National Park, located just south of Victoria Falls, is the largest reserve in Zimbabwe. There are over 100 different animal species and 400 bird species, including the world famous herd of 30,000 elephants, making Hwange one of the few great elephant sanctuaries left in Africa. It is also one of the last strongholds of the endangered painted dog (lycaon pictus).

Conservation groups have worked tirelessly to protect all of these special animals. But it’s not just animals that are in danger of disappearing in this region of Africa. In 2008, the Hwange District had an HIV prevalence as high as 40% and no healthcare.  Human life is also in a precarious situation. 

Global Strategies was given an incredible opportunity in 2011 to invest in a partnership with Wild4Life and Painted Dog Conservation, two nonprofit groups on the ground who witnessed the devastating effects HIV had on people living near and working in the national park.  Through the generous funding of Global Strategies’ supporters and by joining forces with these well-regarded local organizations, we were able to provide seed capital and technical expertise to help establish and accredit health clinics in this remote part of the world.  This included training and educating nurses and community health workers and upgrading facilities. 

This model is so attractive because of its sustainability. Once a clinic is accredited, the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health is committed to providing ongoing medicines, supplies and clinic staff salary support.  Through these partnerships, four clinics were accredited and connected to the national healthcare system. Now, the local population has access to HIV services and basic healthcare.

The goal of our efforts is always to improve the lives of individuals.  We always ask, did our efforts make a difference? Today approximately 830 individuals are receiving long-term antiretroviral treatment for their HIV infection to keep them healthy, prevent orphans and prevent infection of others.  The HIV prevalence has improved significantly and countless new infections have been prevented.  But still, the HIV burden in this region is unacceptably high.  During our recent field visit last month, local women and men greeted us with a song of gratitude and expressed their thanks to all of the Global Strategies supporters because now they have access to healthcare and HIV is no longer a death sentence.

Zim clinic photo

But our work is not yet done. There are still many people in rural areas that have to walk up to 20 miles to get care, including pregnant women so close to their delivery date that they can’t make the trek. Helping to accredit a fifth clinic, training healthcare workers who can conduct home visits for people who are too sick or too remote and providing ongoing supervision and education will save even more lives.

Here are some examples of how your continued support would help:

  • $30 provides one month of salary support for a community health worker to conduct home visits and extend clinic activities into the community
  • $150 provides one month of ongoing education, training and supervision of clinic staff at one clinic to ensure the quality of care provided
  • $1,250 provides one month of salary support for Painted Dog Conservation staff who coordinate healthcare activities in addition to their work to preserve the painted dog population
  • $10,000 provides required HIV training for healthcare workers at the new fifth clinic to achieve Ministry of Health accreditation

Our achievement together is a sustainable investment, coordinated locally, with a return on investment that can be measured by an HIV prevalence that was sharply decreased. By pooling resources, leveraging the existing wildlife conservation infrastructure and connecting rural clinics to the national healthcare system, the rural healthcare model is a sustainable and cost-effective way to bring healthcare to communities that were previously unserved and create long-lasting change.  Hwange National Park is known for its beauty and its focus on animal conservation. Now, because of you, in this region the Dete, Mabale, Makwandara and Lapote clinics are a reality and human life is being conserved with equal attention!

In our work with the PEP project, we can care for victims of sexual violence by bringing the aid directly to them, saving time and getting care delivered faster.
Dr. Sylvie Mwabagne, Physician with the Panzi Foundation

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