Zimbabwean human rights activist Patson Dzamara (34) passed away this week after battling colon cancer.
His death highlights the country’s ailing healthcare system. Healthcare in Zimbabwe is a luxury, only few can afford.
Lack of staff for medical education training, and high drop-out rates in public sector health care posts have resulted in vacancy rates of over 50% for doctors, midwives, laboratory, and environmental health staff (National Health Strategy for Zimbabwe 2009-2013). In 2010 there were 1.6 physicians and 7.2 nurses for every 10,000 people (Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Human Resources for Health information sheet, 2010). A decade later, the situation is worse. There are less than 2000 doctors to serve the country’s population of 14 million. Most hospitals do not have basic medicine or basic equipment like gloves or bandages. The health care workers have felt the strain of the broken system. They earn $80 per month. This salary is not enough to provide for their families or even cover monthly transport costs. Healthcare workers and government are at a stalemate with healthcare workers striking over working conditions and salaries.
The collapsed system has resulted in thousands dying of minor or curable ailments.
Patson died without closure. He died without knowing the answer to his only question: “where is Itai Dzamara?”
Itai was a well-known journalist and activist. In 2014 he started his one-man protest movement in Africa Unity Square, central Harare. This protest movement gained traction. In October 2014, he hand-delivered petition to the President of Zimbabwe asking him to step down. Soon after, he began the ‘Occupy’ campaign with some colleagues. Criticism or opposing political views are not well received by ruling Zanu-PF party. His political and social work made him a target. He was often harassed and beaten by police. On 9 March 2015 5 men (unidentified state agents) abducted Itai from a barbershop. Itai was ripped away from his wife Sheffra, 10 year old son Nokutenda and 5 year old daughter Nenyasha.
Since 2015 Patson Dzamara dedicated his life to searching for his brother and speaking the truth regarding corruption and democracy in Zimbabwe.
Rest in power Patson Dzamara
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