Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
ALICE Matshazi (not her real name) from Sipepa in Tsholotsho District is living with HIV and is on Antiretroviral Therapy.
The day the floods hit Sipepa last week she was to be airlifted by the Airforce of Zimbabwe to a place of safety. There was no time to take her life saving ARVs or even her medical records. In fact they were all destroyed by the floods. This is one of dozens of people whose health has been affected by flooding in some parts of Matabeleland North and in various parts of the country.
The heavy rains that fell last week caught some villagers unaware and they had to be moved to areas of safety as a matter of urgency, leaving behind a number of their vital needs such as medication. The terminally ill who rely on life-saving drugs such as ARVs, diabetes and blood pressure medicines have been in a dilemma.
Mrs Matshazi said she did not think of her medication the day the floods hit the area.
She left behind her month’s supply of ARVs and some blood pressure medicine. Missing a dose of drugs like ARVs may cause a lot of complications. Some people in her village also had the same predicament as their health records and drugs were washed away by the floods. The old were also affected greatly as they could not swiftly vacate their homes.
This scenario is not unique to her alone as 53 terminally ill people were affected by the floods, according to the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Matabeleland North provincial medical director Dr Nyasha Masuka said the mnistry assessed the situation and was now looking at ways of helping the affected.
“We have identified 53 terminally ill people and one has had to be admitted to Tsholotsho District Hospital because she was in a critical state. We have managed to do an assessment for the area to identify health needs and we are making progress,” he said.
Dr Masuka said the ministry has secured the list of drugs and health sundries needed for the affected people and have assisted them with the supplies that they have in stock while efforts are being made to procure more drugs from other areas. He said a total of 842 people have been evacuated to a camp site, 385 being children and 457 adults. The floods hit Tsholotsho last week and close to 100 families had to be evacuated to Sipepa Secondary and Sipepa Health Care Centre.
The Civil Protection Unit (CPU) has been assisting the affected families.