Views & Reviews

Zimbabwe: an eyewitness account

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 10 January 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:98
  1. Kate Adams, general practitioner in Hackney, London, and a trustee of Zimbabwe Health Training Support
  1. kateadams{at}

    Personal View

    No soap in a hospital? Can you believe it? But this is Zimbabwe, a country whose public health system was once the envy of neighbouring countries and that now has the lowest life expectancy in the world: 34 for women and 37 for men. This statistic continues to shock and disturb me; Zimbabwe is, after all, not a country at war.

    Of course, HIV has had a great impact. But it is mainly the policies pursued by Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party that has moved Zimbabwe, once the bread basket of this part of Africa, to a basket case.

    In late October 2007 I spent 10 days in Zimbabwe. I am a trustee of a charity, Zimbabwe Health Training Support, whose aim is to support the training of health professionals and medical students in Zimbabwe. During my stay I ran workshops on medical ethics for junior doctors and consultants. I gave a talk to GPs in Bulawayo on how quality is assessed in general practice in the United Kingdom. While in Bulawayo I stayed with a physician …

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