Health in Zimbabwe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Zimbabwe is a country that has been fighting against many diseases, some of which are incurable due to their poor health care system.

Health status[edit]

Life expectancy[edit]

Zimbabwe had an average life expectancy of 55.68 years according to the 2014 CIA estimate.[1]


Further information: Zimbabwean cholera outbreak

A cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe that began in August 2008, swept across the country[2] and spread to Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia.[3][4] By 10 January 2010 there had been 98,741 reported cases and 4,293 deaths making it the deadliest African cholera outbreak since 1993.[5][6] The Zimbabwean government declared the outbreak a national emergency and requested international aid.[7]


Further information: HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe was and still is one of the countries that were strongly afflicted by HIV/AIDS.[8] Many of the males were affected, hence leaving many widowed females.[8] This happened to bring on a sense of independence and the role of the breadwinner for the females – changing the roles of the sex.[8] The immensity of this health issue can be clearly determined through this particular statistics: every one in five children are orphaned due the HIV/AIDS crisis [9] – making an overall number of approximately 1 million orphans due to AIDS in 2011.[10]

In 2011, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS reached approximately 1.2 million,[10] when Zimbabwe had a population of approximately 12.75 million at that time.[11] People infected with HIV/AIDS made up 9.41% of the population.


Zimbabwe is ranked among the 22 countries, where tuberculosis occurs frequently.[12] In 2000, the incidence rate of tuberculosis reached 726 incidents per 100,000 people, where as in 2011, the number decreased to 603 incidents per 100,000 people.[13] In 2011, the number of incidences of tuberculosis in Zimbabwe was 80 thousand, and the amount of deaths from this disease was 3.4 thousand.[14] Africa is the top continent where tuberculosis occurs frequently, as it reached an estimated value of 2.3 million for incidences in 2010 by the World Health Organization.[14]

Maternal and child health[edit]

According to the UNDP, Zimbabwe has eight Millennium Development Goals, the fourth is Child Health.[15] Zimbabwe’s infant mortality rates have been decreasing. In 2000, the infant mortality rate was 63 deaths per 1000 people, whereas in 2010, the infant mortality rate was 45 deaths per 1000 people.[16] This is an optimistic result from the goals that the Zimbabwean government – the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare – has set up, in order to decrease the infant/child mortality rates. Some of the most common diseases that these young children are facing are hunger: iron deficiency anaemia, vitamin A deficiency, and mentally impaired (iodine deficiency), and childhood diseases: acute respiratory infections, diarrhoeal disease, and malaria.[17] Among these, the most common disease is 35,000 children suffering with mentally impaired disabilities due to iodine deficiency.[17]

Many of the commonly occurring diseases which often to lead to death are regarding hunger – nutritional deficiencies are causes of much infant mortality in Zimbabwe. HIV/AIDS is also an immense conflict in Zimbabwe – it also affects their infant mortality. HIV/AIDS is transmitted many ways, one of which is through the process of giving birth – passing through the birth canal and breast feeding.[18] As the number of mothers infected with HIV/AIDS increases, the number of infant mortality due to HIV/AIDS will also increase. HIV/AIDS is also one of the eight Millennium Development Goals that is wished to be achieved by Zimbabwe.[19]

Ranking 14th as the country with the highest rate of maternal mortality, Zimbabwe had 570 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010.[20] It has decreased significantly from 2000, when the maternal mortality rate was 640 deaths per 100,000 live births.[21] According to the UNDP, maternal death mainly occurs due to AIDS-related diseases, hemorrhaging, and hypertension.[22] In many cases, the pregnant women and mothers lack in iron, causing iron deficiency anaemia; some women also deal with neural tube birth defects – all of these which may be passed onto their children.[17]


Environmental conditions/factors affecting health[edit]

Water pollution[edit]

The state of water and its cleanliness in Zimbabwe is at its lowest. The nature of water and its function as the crucial element of life is known as the opposite for the people of Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, water contains not life but life-threatening diseases due to contamination from industrial works.[23] One of the major origins of water pollution is Zimbabwe’s small industry of mining. By mining for gold, platinum, and other precious, expensive metal alloys, mining makes up for one third of the earnings from Zimbabwe’s exports.[23]

Although the mining industry is a profitable method of income for Zimbabwe, it is responsible for the many causes of water pollution. As they mine for precious metals, the miners are successful in finding them but also unfriendly guests of zinc, iron, nickel, copper and cobalt metals.[24]

An excessive amount of these metals in water deteriorates the health of humans but also the lives of animals and plants – hence it is dangerous for any type of organisms to consume. For example, intakes of excessive zinc may cause internal organ damage and reduce the immune system’s function.[24] Although zinc is a major nutrient supplied with food, an excessive amount of it is harmful.[24]

Other diseases that occur in Zimbabwe due to water pollution are cholera, typhoid, infectious hepatitis, giardia, salmonella, and cryptosporidium.[25] However, despite all this, because water is needed and the people of Zimbabwe are becoming more vulnerable and desperate, they consume this greatly contaminated water – hence, contamination-related health issues and epidemics arises.

Air pollution[edit]

Air pollution is also a growing problem in Zimbabwe, due to industries, poor waste management and transportation. The World Health Organization has set up a limit for the emission of sulfur dioxide to 20 μg/m3 24-hour mean.[26] In Harare, Zimbabwe, that limit has been exceeded to 200 mg/m3.[27] This is only the beginning of the reality of the air pollution in Zimbabwe, especially in its capital, Harare. The release of sulfur dioxide is harmful to the life of humans and other organisms. The inhaling of sulfur dioxide leads to lung diseases, breathing difficulties,[28] formation of sulfurous acid along with the moisture of the mucous membranes causing a strong irritation [28] and prevents the respiratory system’s role in defending the body against foreign particles and bacteria.[29] Hence, it can be concluded that the inhaling of sulfur dioxide is tremendously detrimental to the life of organisms. Not to mention, as sulfur dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere, it forms into acid precipitation as it reacts with water, nitrogen oxides and other sulfur oxides.[30]

This is an ecological consequence that arises from the burning of fossil fuels,[31] which is performed in many countries and many industries for the formation of energy, power plants, and automobiles.[32] Acid precipitation can lead to asthma, bronchitis, lung inflammation, emphysema, and other lung and heart diseases.[33] In 2007, the number of cars per 1000 person was 114, as compared to 17 cars per 1000 person in its neighbor, Zambia.[34] Zimbabwe has a decently great number of cars, mostly all of which are low second-handed. These low second-handed cars do not meet the standard emission rates of Zimbabwe,[35] hence being a greatly environment-polluting factor, becoming hazardous to the lives of Zimbabwe citizens.

Poor waste management also disrupts the harmony of health and the lifestyle of Zimbabwe. As mentioned above in water pollution, clean water is difficult to obtain. Hence, those who can afford bottled water are forced to buy them in order to provide themselves with drinking water. However, once they are done with using the bottles, the bottles are often thrown away or burned.[24] The burning of plastic releases toxic and carcinogenic fumes, which if inhaled causes great damage on the body. Some of the chemicals released in this process are benzo(a)pyrene and other polyaromatic hydrocarbons.[36] These fumes pollute the atmosphere, causing a greater long-term damage which will eventually work against the health and lifestyle of Zimbabwe.


  1. ^ "CIA - The World Factbook Life Expectancy". Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  2. ^ "Failing Zimbabwe: Reporter round-up". BBC. 10 December 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2008. 
  3. ^ "PM urges Zimbabwe cholera action". BBC. 6 December 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2008. 
  4. ^ Hines, Nico (5 December 2008). "Miliband backs African calls for end of Mugabe". London: The Times (UK). Retrieved 5 December 2008. 
  5. ^ [1], Retrieved on 19 April 2008.
  6. ^ "Zimbabwe cholera 'to top 100,000'". BBC. 26 May 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  7. ^ "Zimbabwe declares national emergency over cholera". Reuters. 4 December 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2008. 
  8. ^ a b c Owomoyela, Oyekan (2002). "Culture and Customs of Zimbabwe", p. 108. Greenwood Press, London. ISBN 0313315833.
  9. ^ Elder, James. "HIV/AIDS: A deadly crisis each day in Zimbabwe", Unicef, Bulawayo, 24 March 2005 . Retrieved on 25 April 2013.
  10. ^ a b "Zimbabwe"
  11. ^ "Zimbabwe"
  12. ^ "Zimbabwe"
  13. ^ "Incidence of tuberculosis (per 100,000 people)"
  14. ^ a b "TB Statistics"
  15. ^ "Goal 4 - Reduce Child Mortality"
  16. ^ "Mortality rate, infant (per 1,000 live births)"
  17. ^ a b c United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)(2007). World Hunger Series 2007 : Hunger and Health, Table 6a. The World Food Programme, Rome. ISBN 978-1-84407-551-5.
  18. ^ Rom, William N (2007). "Environmental And Occupational Medicine", p. 745. Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia. ISBN 0781762995.
  19. ^ "Goal 6 - Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases "
  20. ^ "Country Comparison :: Maternal mortality rate"
  21. ^ "Maternal mortality ratio (modeled estimate, per 100,000 live births)"
  22. ^ "Goal 5 - Improve Maternal Health"
  23. ^ a b "Zimbabwe - Economy & Industry"
  24. ^ a b c d Mlambo, Musapindira. "Zimbabwe’s river system heavily polluted"], The Standard, 7 April 2013. Retrieved on 1 May 2013. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "thestandard" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  25. ^ McCracken, Kevin, and David R. Phillips (2012). "Global Health: An Introduction to Current and Future Trends", p. 234. Routledge, New York. ISBN 978-0-415-55756-6.
  26. ^ "Air quality and health"
  27. ^ Mawire, Wallace. "Air pollution tops WHO limit"], The Zimbabwean, 18 April 2012. Retrieved on 30 April 2013.
  28. ^ a b "ATSDR - Medical Management Guidelines (MMGs): Sulfur Dioxide"
  29. ^ "Sulfur Dioxide"
  30. ^ "Acid Rain"
  31. ^ "Acid Rain"
  32. ^ "Effects of Acid Rain"
  33. ^ "Effects of Acid Rain - Human Health"
  34. ^ "Motor vehicles (per 1,000 people)"
  36. ^ "Plastic Bags Must Never Be Burned"