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HARARE (FinalCall.com)–The people of this nation of 12 million have the spirit and tenacity to survive the current food and AIDS crisis, they just need a little sincere help from the international community.
That’s the assessment of two physicians who came here on a fact-finding mission on behalf of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad, the Nation of Islam’s minister of health, said he witnessed the tag team adversaries to the health of the Zimbabwean people–a food shortage and HIV infection–but was inspired by the indomitable spirit and talent of the people.”This mission is to do an on-the-ground assessment, to meet the Minister of Health (Dr. David Parirenyatwa) and those who work with him, to look at their system of hospitals and health care centers, and meet people in the private sector and the victims of AIDS,” Min.
Alim told The Final Call. “We want to compare what we thought we knew with what we find on the ground.”Min. Alim, who was accompanied by Dr. Gregory Muhammad of Phoenix, Az., said he visited a well-equipped rural hospital near Bulawayo whose staff included six Cuban doctors on a tour of duty. He also witnessed a ceremony with rural people that celebrated local caretakers who completed training on caring for people with HIV and AIDS.Nevertheless, the situation on the ground is worse than he expected.
“A big issue in Zimbabwe that we didn’t quite fully appreciate is the food shortage, which is due to some natural causes, such as drought, but it’s also, in part, due to the epidemic itself (which causes) the labor shortage of farm workers who are dying and already dead from HIV,” said Min. Alim. “This general shortage of food is a prime co-factor of the AIDS syndrome and those who are HIV infected. Even if they had the medications, which at the present time they do not, to treat HIV without the basic element of food and a nutritious diet, then all the medicine in the world would not be effective.”Min. Alim said the average Zimbabwean lives on a diet primarily of a dish consisting of corn mill cooked in water.
The dish, he said, is high in carbohydrates but low in protein.”Therefore, one of the basic necessities for recovering from HIV infection can be met, because what happens is that the virus destroys many of the cells in the immune system. You need a highly nutritious diet to rebuild those cells,” he said.Dr. Gregory, who accompanied Min. Farrakhan to Zimbabwe on his historic Peace Misson to Africa and the Middle East last July, said Zimbabwe officials were happy with a pledge from Min. Farrakhan to send the doctors and a team of journalists to the country.”The Minister made a commitment to come back and add whatever support he could, in terms of doctors, medicine and knowledge. “They were very open to the Minister’s suggestion and had lots of love and respect for him.”We plan to now work with people in our community in the U.S. to establish ways and means to get pharmaceuticals to the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.Dr. Alim said he offered the nine-point HIV program of the Nation of Islam as something the country could immediately implement.
Those steps are: acknowledging the problem; proper education; testing; counseling; treatment; research; development of a medical infrastructure; forming alliances; and understanding the global nature of AIDS.Most of the people in Zimbabwe have not been tested for AIDS, he said, and 90 percent of those who have don’t know the results.Concerning treatment, he said, “What we hear from the grassroots in Zimbabwe is, what’s the use in being tested when there is no treatment.”And although Zimbabwe has a fairly developed infrastructure of hospitals and clinics, they don’t have medicine.”Fighting the AIDS epidemic has to be made into a movement. There is no such thing as a Zimbabwean solution. There has to be a global approach, but it can start in Zimbabwe and spread throughout the region and all of Africa,” he said.Dr. Alim urged the government of Zimbabwe to declare a national state of emergency against the AIDS pandemic.
Furthermore, no nation should allow international patents and other impediments stop them from protecting the health of their people, which is in each nation’s own national interest, he said.”It should be understood that the development of a pharmaceutical sector is vital to natural security of African nations,” he said. “And they should declare openly to the world that they would not allow any patent laws or other restrictions that would prevent them from developing the pharmaceutical products on their own soil that are absolutely essential to protecting the lives of their own people.
“To say to Africa that the patent rights of multi-national corporations are more important than the lives of their people, or that debt service to the World Bank and other international banks … is a crime against humanity and should not be tolerated,” he said.”We should demand that the U.S. and other developed countries immediately drop this policy of technological apartheid that makes Africa off limits to certain types of vital technologies that are necessary to handle this epidemic,” Dr. Alim concluded. “The current world order is a world order that will not permit Black survival. We have to understand that and whatever price that has to be paid, we should be willing to pay it. To refuse to pay that price and fight that fight is to acquiesce to our own demise.”Dr. Gregory, who was stunned by the “Zimbabwe brain drain” in the medical field, encourages people who want to get involved in addressing the problems in Zimbabwe to visit www.atonementcommission.org and fill out the registration form.