MSF's pull-out leaves HIV patients in limbo

HARARE - Government has begged Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to continue providing anti-retroviral drugs to patients in Buhera district after the organisation announced  it was pulling out.

MSF is pulling out of the district after more than 12 years of providing free anti-retro treatment (ART) and related opportunistic infections services in the area.

MSF or Doctors Without Borders, is a French-founded now international  humanitarian-aid non-governmental organisation.

Caroline Aluda, MSF field coordinator,  said they had been preparing for their exit since 2010 and had taken a number of steps for the transition, including skills transfer to the ministry of Health and Child Care personnel.

“It is not easy to move out if you have been working with people for a long time,” said Aluda yesterday during a media tour. “We are planning to drop some clinics so that they (ministry of Health and Child Care) can run them.

Mentors we have trained will take over from June with 10 clinics. We have chosen the best performing clinics for them. In September, we will give them more because we do not want to give them all at once.

“We are already engaged in sensitisation and dialogue with stakeholders to ensure that there is a smooth exit which will not affect the projects that we started. We are already discussing with patients about the changes that might come as a result of our exit since ART patients were accessing services for free.

“They might be required to pay a certain fee at the hospital for service rendered after we exit.”

The Buhera district hand-over will run until the end of next year, according to MSF.

At least 23 sites in Buhera district offer ART to 15 419 patients. MSF provides ART services to a tenth of the 1, 2 million people who are HIV positive in Zimbabwe. Buhera district hit 100 percent ART coverage in 2010.

Owing to new WHO guidelines, people requiring ART services have doubled to 1, 2 million.

However district administrator Rolland Madondo said MSF’s pull-out would leave HIV patients “in a mess” owing to lack of resources.

“Murambinda Mission Hospital is now well known, and patients come from as far as Harare and Bulawayo because of the assurance that they get, the drugs, and quality service,” Madondo said.

“We were comfortable with that as we cannot pretend that the pandemic is not with us. We have been told by December 2015, they will be leaving. That is a source of concern.

“Government is still doing its best but the problem we all know is there are no resources. I am advocating for continuation of partnership with MSF so that we get the attention we have been getting over the years. We all know what the situation was like before they came and I would not desire to be in the same predicament again.

“I have passed on the information to leaders telling them this is what has come out.  I do not see us coming up with an alternative. It is not noble for you to pull out at the moment. You are leaving those 15 419  to face a mess.”

By December this year, MSF will have handed over 16 rural clinics and two mission hospitals in Gokwe North district and 14 rural clinics plus a district hospital in Tsholotsho District to government.

The organisation is also running projects in Chikomba, Epworth, Gokwe North, Gutu, Mbare, and Tsholotsho.


Comments (5)

The once mighty & majestic zimbabwe will soon be like sudan or somalia, surviving by begging for almost everything, Is this the legacy that you would like to leave us , comrades!

Changamire Dombo - 9 May 2014


karanda mission hospital - 9 May 2014

MSF are in Murambinda to fulfill their academic interests of doing studies in resource poor settings so that they can publish their results and get more funding from their funders. Nobody interrogates their administrative budgets which can be as high as 70% of the total budget. They get the ARVs they use from other Global Health Initiatives such as Global Fund etc. They sometimes use treatment regimens and medicines which are not in the National Guidelines to prove a point .They have been around for 12 years and their study is done and they will go and publish the results. Be careful what you perceive as philanthropy!!!

Mudha - 10 May 2014

its painful that we are going back to hard times of 2008. Msf was our savior since the government is lacking solutions to the health woes. We beg Msf to remain.

Usavi - 14 May 2014

its painful that we are going back to hard times of 2008. Msf was our savior since the government is lacking solutions to the health woes. We beg Msf to remain.

Usavi - 14 May 2014

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