Zimbabwe The 8-Kilometer Walk

There was
a surprising development in Zimbabwe this week. The Minister of Health
announced that the number of people
who would receive antiretroviral treatment
by the end of the year would jump from 180,000
to 300,000. That’s a pretty suspect claim
of increase, especially when
your health system is in a shambles,
you’ve got no money, drugs are in short supply,
and doctors and nurses are virtually nonexistent. But let me set that aside
for the moment, and let me give you a fact
that is not suspect. In making the announcement,
the Minister of Health indicated that it meant
that no one in the country would have to travel
more than eight kilometers to get their drugs. You’ve got to be kidding. Eight kilometers.
That’s five miles. With an immune system shredded, physical frame assaulted
by AIDS, sick unto death, so often when I travel
through Africa as the AIDS envoy,
I realized that the distance to getting the drugs was often
the ultimate bar to treatment. People living with AIDS
couldn’t get to the hospitals and couldn’t get
to the health clinics. And there was almost never
any money for transportation, regardless the country. This is 2010,
the year of universal access. I’m Stephen Lewis. **Captions by Project readOn**

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