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Volume 9, No. 2FALL 2006

Zimbabwe Crisis Spotlighted
Through $1.5 Million Medical Aid

Photo: Carlo Spagnolli M.D.

Motoko, Zimbabwe (IOCC) — Skyrocketing inflation and deteriorating social conditions have made it impossible for hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans to receive adequate medical care. IOCC’s recent $1.5 million shipment of hospital supplies, medical equipment and critically-needed medicines will begin to address this critical need. The shipment to Zimbabwe also represents IOCC’s expansion of its Gift in Kind outreach and activities in Africa.

“As little as 10 years ago Zimbabwe was the envy of much of Africa,” says IOCC’s Dirk Van Gorp, who has worked in Zimbabwe for many years. “It had a vibrant and growing economy, the best educational system in Africa, was an agricultural paradise exporting food to other African nations, and enjoyed a peaceful and advanced civil society with freedom of the press and a multi-party democracy.” Today, however, Zimbabwe is on the brink of collapse brought on by many factors, primary among them a repressive political regime, rampant HIV Aids (20% of the adult population is HIV positive or living with AIDs), and naturally occurring drought. Inflation runs at 4% per day, or about 1,500% per year.

Photo: Carlo Spagnolli M.D.

Because the country’s entire economic and social structure is in chaos, Zimbabwe is in desperate need of many types of assistance-chief of all medical aid. The supplies provided by IOCC, which will help an estimated 30,000 individuals, include hospital consumables, surgical instruments, lab supplies and broad spectrum antibiotics used to treat AIDS and other infectious diseases. The supplies arrived on July 1 at the Luisa Guidotti Hospital in Motoko, and will be distributed to three other medical centers: St. Michael’s Mission Hospital in Ngezi, the G. Spagnolli Health Centre for Health and Promotion of Women in Harare, and Nyamayaro Health Centre in Chinhoyi.

“There are very few well functioning hospitals in Zimbabwe,” said IOCC’s Frank Carlin. “Individuals travel as far as 180 kilometers to receive medical help at Luisa Guidotti,” he said. Dr. Carlo Spagnolli, head surgeon and medical director of Luisa Guidotti, offered his thanks to IOCC: “Blessed be you and the friends of the Orthodox Church in [the] USA for all these precious cartons of medicines and [equipment]. Zimbabwe is among the poorest and most fragile of countries in Africa, and we are grateful for this help.”

The acquisition of the supplies and their transport was made possible through a grant from Roberto Bazzoni Onlus, a non profit association based in Italy. Northwest Medical Teams International provided the supplies.

“This shipment represents IOCC’s commitment to expanding our programs in Africa and to providing special assistance to rural populations,” said IOCC Executive Director and CEO, Constantine M. Triantafilou. “Although this is our first project in Zimbabwe, we look forward to future collaborations with His Eminence Metropolitan George of Zimbabwe, who operates a medical clinic in his archdiocese and is planning a hospital in the future.”

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