Companies provide relief for the people of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean mother proudly holds her infant undergoing treatment at Howard Hospital

The people of Zimbabwe are in a desperate situation. The country has been hit by drought, HIV/AIDS, political uncertainty and an economic meltdown that have contributed to a humanitarian disaster. Life expectancy is the lowest in the world, 36 years, down from 60 years in 1990.

In the context of this worsening crisis, The Salvation Army Howard Hospital continues to provide quality care to the poverty-stricken population of 35 surrounding villages. Unfortunately, medicine for the hospital pharmacy is often not available or not affordable. Canadian Dr. Paul Thistle, chief medical officer at Howard Hospital, says that the facility receives only 10 per cent of the medicines and supplies it needs through regular local channels. He relies almost entirely on donations to be able to treat the 140,000 patients who come to the hospital for care every year.

Canadian healthcare companies have responded to this urgent need with significant donations of medical aid through HPIC. Medicines, medical supplies and equipment worth more than $3 million are on their way to Howard Hospital.

Dr. Thistle, who was in Canada to receive an honorary doctorate and a humanitarian award, met with representatives of the contributing companies, the Salvation Army, HPIC and members of the media on June 10 at HPIC’s Distribution Centre in Mississauga.

In his remarks he thanked Canadian healthcare companies. “I am glad to come home to Canada to see friends who care,” he said, “who look beyond the political situation of the day and seek to help Howard Hospital at the grassroots level to deliver medicine, surgical and medical supplies on the ground to the 140,000 people who enter our doors every year. We can’t do it without the healthcare companies and the large support we have received and will continue to receive from HPIC.”

According to Glen Shepherd, Executive Vice-president and COO of HPIC, this shipment illustrates the good things that happen when people and organizations come together. “This partnership is sending a container of hope. It is hope for the people who live in the area served by the Howard Hospital. But maybe more importantly, it is hope because it is a concrete example of partnership and collaboration by a variety of individuals who see beyond their own particular interests and comfort to strike a chord for fairness, justice and life.”