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Complete clinic, a rare savior for sickness in Zimbabwe

Chingwaru's blessing could hardly walk without support when he arrived at the Rutsanana specialist clinic in Harare complaining of chest pain and fatigue.

With a skeleton weight of 37 kilograms (5.8 stones), HIV-positive motor mechanics knew something was wrong.

He was immediately given a number of tests and reported bad news: He also suffered from advanced TB. Dual infections by HIV and TB are well-known killers.

"My health has deteriorated and I continue to wonder why," recalls Chingwaru, 29, at the clinic.

Within a few hours of diagnosis, Chingwaru was given free care and care.

In a country where more than a dozen people die every day because of TB-related diseases, it is a rare example of efficient public health services.

Rutsanana Polyclinic in the poor suburb of Glen Norah in Harare, visited by Chingwaru, is one of 10 pilot clinics in the country that offer free diagnosis and treatment for TB, diabetes and HIV.

The clinic, which was opened in 2016, is managed by 24 nurses and currently treats 120 TB patients.

Among the millions of people living with HIV in Zimbabwe, TB is the most common cause of death, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

HIV-positive people, and other people with weak immune systems, are very susceptible to contracting infections.

After Chingwaru's initial visit in February, the doctors worried about his life.

But after five months of treatment, Chingwaru has gained 15 kg.

"Everything I need, I get here," Chingwaru said, forming a fist with both hands to show off his returning strength.

– Economic and financial crisis –

In countries where public health services are practically collapsing, TB transmission has become a persistent struggle.

Zimbabwe has been trapped in a very bad economic and financial crisis for decades and doctors are underpaid and poorly equipped.

Despite free TB treatment, the number of annual TB infections in Zimbabwe remains among the highest in the world.

Infectious infections are usually found in the lungs and caught by inhaling bacteria from small drops of sneezing or coughing.

Because HIV-positive people are very vulnerable to TB, the clinic has followed the advice of WHO officials to link TB testing and treatment with HIV prevention programs.

– & # 39; Catastrophic fees & # 39; –

Close to the main gate of the Rutsanana clinic, the HIV tent and green test have been established to encourage people to check their status.

The clinic also offers voluntary HIV counseling and antiretroviral treatment.

Sithabiso Dube, a doctor with the International Union Against TB medical charity who heads the TB and HIV programs, said people with diabetes also had a higher risk of TB, so patients were tested for both diseases.

"Instead of seeking diabetes care in one clinic and TB treatment at another clinic, they can get this service in one place," Dube told AFP.

Because the service is free "they can reduce what we call disaster costs to TB patients," he said.

Mostly funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) program, pilot clinics have become saviors for the poor – but only if they live near them.

Most populations do not have access to a one-stop clinic.

As a result there are plans to improve the program, with 46 other similar centers to be launched in Zimbabwe.

Rutsanana Clinic Matron Angela Chikondo said the program was very important to minimize complications among TB patients and diabetes.

"If someone is on TB treatment and also has diabetes, and his diabetes is well controlled, the chances of recovery are very high," he said.

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