02 February 2008

Not the usual fare

I got the opportunity to visit Kanyama Clinic in Lusaka. This is a government-run clinic that's at the forefront of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Based on reports from my eyeball (aka an unauthoritative opinion), they are operating at about 8 times greater than capacity. Kanyama has been flooded with rainwater lately, because the rains in Zambia have been far greater than normal. The capacity to handle that much drainage is lacking. The clinic itself was OK when I visited, it hadn't rained badly for 2 days or so. Otherwise the clinic grounds would have been under about 12cm of water. The houses of the clinic staff on the clinic grounds were flooded, and the path leading from the houses to the hospital building is still flooded.


Makeshift paths had been created by putting concrete, rock, or bricks into the water to provide stepping stones so that people could go about their business.

Not an easy road

Outside the clinic everything is under water. The tar on the roads gets washed away under these conditions and mud is the only thing left. The schools were shut down for a few days, now they are open again. Many children take off their shoes to walk through the water, otherwise the problem is that their feet will be wet all day.

Nature abhors a civililsation

The gardens inside the clinic are well tended. Of course, they have no water problems right now.

Impact of HIV/AIDS on Zambia

The vice-President had visited the area the other day. By-elections are to take place shortly in the area. Relief was promised and there was a truck with a pump on it trying to pump the water from the clinic staff's houses.

About 20% of the population of the country is HIV+. That's 1 in 5 people. A few years ago drugs were only available for the very rich. Now they are available free of cost for poor patients so there has been an increase in average lifespan. It's up to 40 now, according to the World Health Organisation, it was at 33 prior to the availability of antiretrovirals. I'm not sure if there are any studies that have directly determined that the increase in average life expectancy is due to the ARVs. But I'm sure that keeping people alive and healthy longer does have a huge impact.