Why I’m Fed Up With Politics in Zimbabwe

By Masimba Biriwasha | Open Editorial | @ChiefKMasimba | February 20, 2014

Growing up in Zimbabwe, the country seemed like a magical place, filled with hope and possibility. There was a sense that you could be anything that you wanted, that you could work hard and turn yourself into whatever you wanted to be. That – if anything – we were a blessed people.

Granted, Zimbabwe had its fair share of problems. At Independence from British rule in 1980, the Government of Zimbabwe inherited some of the most serious socio-economic inequalities in the world in terms of income, assets and access to education, housing and healthcare. Continue reading

StoryMaker Mobile App Empowers Citizen Journalists to tell Stories

By Masimba Biriwasha | Global Editor At Large | @ChiefKMasimba  | January 24, 2013

Approximately 40 Zimbabwean citizen journalists received training in May last year to produce community based stories using a free Android mobile-powered App called StoryMaker that facilitates the creation of video stories.

StoryMaker, developed by Small World News, is an open source application that comes with templates and lessons to guide would be storytellers on how to shoot professional videos with mobile phones. Continue reading

Unsafe Abortions Put Women’s Lives At Risk in Zimbabwe

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha || Global Editor At Large | @ChiefKMasimba | January 21, 2014

An estimated 46 million women throughout the world, 11% of whom are in Africa, have induced abortion each year. In Zimbabwe abortion is illegal, with exceptions in cases of rape, incest, fetal impairment or preservation of the mother’s health.

Despite the stigma around abortion, illegal, self-inflicted abortions are rife in Zimbabwe and put the lives of women at risk. Unicef estimates that 80 000 illegal abortions take place in the country every year. Continue reading

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.

Why Revisiting Our Zim Mis-Education Matters

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha | Global Editor At Large

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AS Zimbabweans, we carry the tag that we are amongst some of the world’s most educated and literate with pomp and pride. It is something that most of us always like to brag about.

But fact of the matter is that our highly regarded educational status is much like a gong in the wind. We have very little to show for all the long rolls of degrees and certificates that we have accumulated over the years.

It appears that our education is good for a showcase. Certainly, it has helped many of us speak well polished English but outside that there is zilch: it’s like shells and corpses. Much ado about nothing. We have become individuals of “distorted tastes, confused perception and resultless energy.”

The education that we are so proud of has largely resulted in the inhibition and domestication of the intentionality of our consciousness – in the process – deterring us from becoming fully human.

If anything, our so-called education has reduced most of us to become alienated functionaries with little originality and innovativeness to address the most significant social, political and economic problems in our communities.

For all our long educational degrees, we have no knowledge of our own customs and traditions. We know zilch about our culinary arts and folks or achievements that our people have made in the past. All these things contain coded messages that if properly decoded can help to reshape our philosophical worldview providing us with confidence to deal with our conditions in our own unique way.

Put simply, our education has only served us to fit neatly into some proletariat structure without equipping us with the tools, knowledge and skills required to reshape our historical circumstances. Instead, it instils within most of us a profound sense of alienation from our communities nurturing a split personality.

Essentially, our educational system has alienated us from our ontology or sense of being a human being. What has been planted has given birth to a duality of some sort where the so-called educated’s essential sense of being is often suppressed by the acquired education. Yet that acquired education is not sufficient enough to held the individual to influence the reality round them.

For progress’s sake, we need to rediscover our consciousness apart from the education that has been implanted in us. We need an educational system that takes into account our own view of the world and equips us with tools to shape those viewpoints. We need to undergo an educational rehabilitation process of some sort that repositions us as the centre of our being and instils confidence within us to influence the conditions of our lives.

Of course, one cannot talk of Zimbabwe’s education without referring to colonialism which sought to superimpose its systems upon us. But this realisation should even make it more urgent to engage in authentic re-acculturation.

In TB Fight, Children Must Be a Priority

 

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HARARE, Zimbabwe – TB mostly affects the world’s poorest; among those, the most vulnerable are children. Despite that an estimated 500,000 new annual cases of children with tuberculosis (TB), there are no appropriate medicines for them according to UNITAID and the TB Alliance.

TB, one of the world’s most neglected diseases with almost no new treatments developed in the past 50 years, is one of the top ten causes of childhood death. According to WHO, Tuberculosis (TB) often goes undiagnosed in children from birth to 15 years old because they lack access to health services – or because the health workers who care for them are unprepared to recognize the signs and symptoms of TB in this age group.

With no alternatives available, treatment providers for children are forced to adapt medicines for adults as best they can, such as by cutting pills. This leads to improper treatment, treatment failure, spread of this highly-contagious disease, and conditions ripe for the development of drug-resistant strains of the bacteria.

“Despite the world’s capabilities to address this disease, pediatric tuberculosis has been ignored for far too long, resulting in a complete lack of appropriate medicines,” said Denis Broun, Executive Director of UNITAID.

The extent of the childhood TB pandemic is not fully understood. Most experts believe that TB in children goes largely undiagnosed and that the true scope of the problem is far higher than the estimates today.

Childhood tuberculosis is estimated to constitute about 6% out of all incident cases, with the majority of cases occurring in high TB burden countries. 

“Developing treatments for children with TB is an urgent humanitarian imperative,” said Mel Spigelman, M.D., President and CEO of TB Alliance. “An appropriate formulation for the decades-old drugs is not even available. We need to immediately rectify the situation for the present drugs, and also ensure that the improved treatments in the pipeline will be developed for children soon after they are approved for adults.”

In 2010, the World Health Organization released new guidelines for pediatric drugs. However, to date, no quality-assured products have been produced to these specifications.

World TB Day, March 24, commemorates the day in 1882 that Robert Koch discovered the tubercle bacillus, the bacteria responsible for tuberculosis. Since that discovery, progress against the disease has surged and ebbed. Now with outbreaks of more deadly forms of TB, documented around the world, it’s time to help protect children from this disease.