Pregnancy Imperils Zimbabwean Women’s Lives

By Masimba Biriwasha | Global Editor-At-Large | @ChiefKMasimba | 07 January 2013

A Zimbabwean woman, Tendai Chitsinde, 24, died recently while giving birth to her first child. According to news reports, hospital staff called off a Caesarian section operation which could have saved her and her baby’s life. Because she was a television presenter, her death made news headlines and an outpouring of grief.

But Chitsinde is only one of an estimated 3,000 women and girls who die each year in Zimbabwe due to pregnancy-related complications. That’s 8 women dying every day of the year.

Additionally, 26 000 to 84 000 women and girls suffer from disabilities caused by complications during pregnancy and childbirth each year.

Maternal and neo-natal health services in Zimbabwe face severe shortages which hampers the delivery of quality services. As a result, the maternal mortality rate alarmingly stands at 960 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births – three times higher than the global average and almost double that of the Sub Saharan averages.

Maternal mortality is defined as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, regardless of the site or duration of pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management.

The consequences of maternal mortality are felt not only by women but also by their families and communities. Loss of women during their most productive years also means a loss of resources for the entire society. At least 1.23 per cent of GDP is lost annually due to maternal complications in the country, according to UN.

Most of what needs to be done is already known. However, Zimbabwe’s decade-long political, economic and social fallout has had a terrible impact on the public health delivery system, significantly reducing the quality of services provided to pregnant women.

Many women, particularly in rural areas cannot afford the transport costs required to make frequent travels to health centers during and after pregnancy. Rural women opt to deliver at home which significantly increases chances that they will die, especially when the delivery requires surgical intervention, or is carried out by non-skilled persons.

Shortages in personnel, equipment and supplies continue to plague Zimbabwe’s healthcare infrastructure, putting the lives of pregnant women at risk.

According to WHO, most maternal deaths are avoidable, as the health-care solutions to prevent or manage complications are well known.

It is particularly important for health care workers to be well trained so they can properly meet the medical requirements of pregnant women.

Unless significant action is taken to improve health services, pregnancy will continue to imperil the lives of Zimbabwean women.

AIDS: Wheregoes the Money?

JUST how much money are the recipients of AIDS funds putting into programmes that have a real impact on communities affected by the disease without hip- hopping around the world or engaging in endless AIDS workshops? It appears that unless there is serious public account of where exactly AIDS dollars are going, we are in for a long ride with the epidemic. Continue reading

The Great Vasectomy Myth: Impotency

For most men, the idea of vasectomy, a surgical procedure to cut and close off the tubes that deliver sperm from the testicles, is a complete no-can-do associated with being sexually dysfunctional in the male psyche. 

According to the latest issue of Population Reports, titled “Vasectomy: Reaching Out to New Users,” published by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, vasectomy is simpler and more cost effective than female sterilization and offers men a way to share responsibility for family planning. 

“The most entrenched and powerful rumors concern manhood, masculinity, and sexual performance. Many men confuse vasectomy with castration and fear, incorrectly, that vasectomy will make them impotent,” says the report.  But in fact, “Castration involves removal of the testicles. In contrast, vasectomy leaves the testicles intact, and they continue to produce male hormones.” Continue reading

Diabetes in Zimbabwe: It’s Not All About Sugar

GROWING up in Zimbabwe, diabetes (a polygenic disease characterized by abnormally high glucose levels in the blood) was something that the old people always talked about, and the fear of the disease grew over me like a giant baobab.

To describe a person with diabetes, the old people would say in local parlance “Ane shuga”, which literally means: “He/she has sugar”. Essentially, it meant that the affected person has a disease associated with sugar.

To my childhood fancy, I thought that the people who were affected with the diabetes ate a lot of sugar only to discover later it was the common understanding.

Most people in Zimbabwe associate diabetes with a high intake of sugar, particularly in tea.

Little to no other foods are associated with the onset of this condition. Put simply, very few people know that eating too much of carbohydrates, fats, proteins can increase the incidence of diabetes.

I discovered later that diabetes mellitus occurs when the pancreas does not make enough or any of the hormone insulin, or when the insulin produced doesn’t work effectively. In diabetes, this causes the level of glucose in the blood to be too high.

According to experts, the number of people with diabetes in Zimbabwe is growing. In 2003, Zimbabwe recorded more than 90 000 cases of diabetes, an increased of 3 000 from the 1997 figure.

The Diabetic Association of Zimbabwe estimates that around 400 000 people in the country have the disease but many are unaware on their condition.

“About 50 percent of Zimbabweans are diabetic but are not aware of the condition, so many people are suffering from diabetes but do not have any knowledge about it,” a Zimbabwe Diabetes Association official was quoted in The Herald newspaper.

“It is sad that a lot of people have died because of this disease without knowing it, and only relatives will know about it after a post-mortem has been conducted,” added the official. Continue reading

A Miracle Called Atkins Diet

If you want to lose weight without going through the struggle of getting hungry then the Atkins diet plan is the way to go. The most amazing thing about the Atkins weight loss plan is appetite suppression. Food cravings are the most common reason that make people who are on a diet break their promises.

Instead of loading the pressure to desire for food, the Atkins diet plan offers food choices that you can take during the day without going overweight.

 A sample Atkins Diagram

Unlike other diet alternatives, the Atkins diet plan allows followers to escape hunger pangs in-between meals, helping to keep adherents focused on staying healthy or losing weight. 


The Atkins diet allows you to control your food craving, particulalrly for carbohydrates by eating protein based meals that are spaced throughout the day which keeps your blood sugar stabilized. It also keeps your body free of desire for extra food, especially carbohydrates.


The Atkins diet works on the principle of restricting your intake of carbohydrates while keeping you free from constant hunger. It severly moderatees the consumption of carbohydrate such as high-sugar foods, breads, pasta, cereal, and starchy vegetables, which easily fill you up but do not last in your stomach for long.


Instead, the Atkins diet plan focuses on more nutritious than processed foods that make you less likely to experience food cravings.


The specific combination of nutritious foods and ingredients in the diet melts away cravings for food. The key in the Atkins diet is the amount of protein which you consume and lasts longer in your stomach than carbohydrates.


Diets that are filled with carbohydrate fill you up instanteneously but a few hours later, you stomach feels empty forcing you to eat more. This inevitably forces you to eat more. As a result, you gain more weight putting off your efforts to keep control over your weight.


With the Atkins diet plan, in-between meals hunger pangs go away very quickly, thereby reducing your intake of food and helping them to keep your weight under check.


A mix of protein and minimal healthy fats keeps your body satiated for long periods of time.


Eggs on the Atkins diet plan suppress your appetite, and they are also a great form of quick and easy protein.


In fact, a study with two groups of women revealed that if you eat eggs for breakfast, it reduces the extent of hunger during the day.


One group ate eggs for breakfast and the other had a breakfast of bagels and cream cheese. The breakkfasts had a similar calorie count.


The women who had eggs for breakfast reported feeling full during the day, and ate less at each meal than those in the bagel group.


In the Atkins diet plan, eggs easily satisfy your hunger without adversely increasing blood sugar levels, helping to stop foods cravings. Eggs are also easy to prepare.


Apart from suppressing hunger, eggs have nutrients that are essential for good eye health and important in brain functioning and memory, extra benefits that come with choosing to follow the Atkins Diet plan.


In addition, two vegetables on the Atkins program, broccoli and cauliflower, provide bulk in your diet which also reduces the levels on in-between meals hunger pains. Because they are bulky, they help to give your stomach an impression of fullness.

and this helps to distract your mind and body from constantly thinking about food.


Water and psyllium husk fiber that are also in the Atkins diet plan also help to create an impression of fullness in your stomach. The Atkins Diet plan is certainly the way to go if you want to escape the hunger and food denial commonly associated with dieting.


The combination of special types of carbohyrates and the protein in the Atkins diet plan provide you with highly nutritious foods that suppress the temptation to eat, and at the same time, keep your weight under check and your bodily health in good shape.

Why I may become a 21st Century Vegan

First, I must make a full confession: I have never really cared about my health.


Let me be blunt – I don’t really make a conscious choice to take care of my nutrition. I eat anything that comes along, and as long as I don’t get sick, so be it.


But the thought to become more involved in determining my health status has been slowly rising from within the depths of my being.


Much of it has been inspired by some readings that I have done of late. I have always regarded vegans with something of awe.



I secretly think vegans are really cool people, making a conscious effort to look after their health.


As I am writing, the thought of bacon is wiggling at the back of my mind. Indeed, I love bacon especially the way it sizzles on the tongue, and its crumply taste is already filling my mouth.


More seriously, I really want to start taking care of my health – I want to be able to consciously determine what goes into my digestive system.


I don’t think continuing down this pathway of eating whatever is available; including all the meats of the world is necessarily the best.


So where do I start. I suppose my main motivation on why I may choose to become vegan will be for the sake of my health.


I have had my fair share of meat blood. God, I can’t imagine how much I have contributed to the deaths of so many lives in the animal kingdom.


So if I choose to become vegan, it will certainly be for moral and ethical reason around the butchering of animals.


But what I am really worried about is if I choose to become vegan, what will happen to the rights of the vegetables of the world. I strongly believe that vegetables have rights too.


This is a moral minefield that I will have to define for myself as I choose to embark on the journey to become a vegan.


After all, we are what we it. Most of us are walking packed with toxics that could blow at any point.


As I have turned round into the 30s stretch, I can’t continue to pummel the only body I have.


Even the binges have to be dropped altogether so that I can embark on refueling myself – cleaning myself in preparation to take my position in the magic of life.


Choosing to be a vegan will be a significant marker of change in my existence. It should be fun, and I would like to let you know through these pages the beauty, and challenges of that journey.


O, it could actually become the basis of a book. Who knows?


As my first step, I popped into to check out what they say about all this.


And this is what they had to say. To be veggie:

  • No meat
  • No fish
  • No fish eggs (fish are killed to collect them)
  • No cheese with animal rennet
  • No wines, beers or spirits with animal-derived fining agents or coloring
  • No food products with gelatine (parts of hooves and legs of horses and cows)
  • No food with animal-derived ingredients and colours (see nutrition site)
  • No new leather (but best none at all)
  • No fur
  • No silk

 And … if you really want to be a well-tuned-in 21st century veggie, make a conscious effort not buy foods that destroy precious animal habitats.


This includes foods with palm oil – produced by flattening rain forests and in turn killing thousands of primates and other animals (see more here). 


Well, welcome to my desired vegan world.