by Lasten Mika
Journal section: General Article
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The regional programme on biomass energy conservation (ProBEC) is implementing a demonstration project in the rural villages of Hurungwe district, 240km north west of Harare, Zimbabwe.
An energy baseline survey was conducted in February 2000 to establish the energy status and the link between energy and health in the demonstration area.
One section of the survey questionnaire tried to solicit the villagers’ views on the most prevalent diseases in their community. Malaria and diarrhoea were the most common diseases cited.
Out of 123 respondents, only 5% acknowledged that HIV/AIDS was a prevalent disease. Does this reflect the true situation obtaining in the district? Reliable information from the district health experts differs from that obtained from the survey. The low 5% figure indicates the limited awareness about the HIV/AIDS issue and the cultural sensitivity associated with the disease. It is taboo to discuss openly about HIV/AIDS.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics on HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe show that the age group between 15 to 24 years is the most affected, with 36% being positive. Regrettably, this is the most productive and active group, whose loss deprives the community of their valuable support. Often they leave behind orphans to support themselves, or in the care of the elderly.
From the baseline survey in Hurungwe, 89% of households are interested in getting more information or training in home-based care of the terminally ill patients. A fairly high number of the respondents (67%) indicated that they normally have ill family members for whom they have to care. The emergence of HIV/AIDS has seen a high rise in the number of homebased care programmes countrywide. Hence it can be concluded that there are HIV/AIDS problems in the community, though they can not be expressed directly.
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