26 May 2011

Zimbabwe Health Care: Paid in Peanuts, literally. Scrawny Chickens Accepted too.

With their old currency worth nothing, and American dollars hard to find, people trade what has value for what they need.

The Chidamoyo Christian Hospital, along with countless Zimbabweans, turned to barter in earnest in 2008 when inflation peaked at what the International Monetary Fund estimates was an astonishing 500 billion percent, wiping out life savings, making even trillion-dollar notes worthless and propelling the health and education systems into a vertiginous collapse.

“It’s very difficult to get this famous dollar that people are talking about,” said Esther Chirasasa, 30, who hiked eight miles through the bush to the hospital for treatment of debilitating arthritis. Her son, Cain, 13, walked at her side carrying a sack of peanuts to pay for her care.

Bartering helps plug some of the holes. A May survey of more than 4,000 rural households found that each of them, typically a family of six, spent an average of only $8 for all their needs in April, the cost of a couple of cappuccinos in New York.

Read the rest of the article, and about the way the hospital recycles even the Drug Interaction leaflets and cotton out of medications! More photos and video too. New York Times Photo by Robin Hammond

I lived in Zimbabwe for many years, on the same grounds as Chidamoyo's sister hospital in the southeast of the country.

1 comment:

Lola Monro said...

Zimbabwe health care defines the paid in peanuts, literally and also scrawny chickens accepted too. It’s very difficult to get this famous dollar that people are talking about,” said Esther Chirasasa, 30, who hiked eight miles through the bush to the hospital for treatment of debilitating arthritis.