Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Home based neglect?

TOP del.icio.us

A friend of mine volunteered in Masvingo for a few months doing household surveys of rural families in that province. The main focus of the project was to find out how families were being affected by HIV/AIDS, and what kind of coping strategies they had developed. She was shocked by how poorly the majority of families she interviewed were doing. HIV was hitting the adult population hard, making it difficult for families to carry out the basic chores and activities they needed to do to survive. Home based care had been an option for some of these families, but she commented that it was becoming more a case of “home based neglect.” When the price controls hit and goods vanished off the shelves, relatives and caregivers in many cases stopped visiting. Whether they were too busy trying to feed their own families, or too embarrassed to visit their charges empty handed, she didn’t know. But either way, they stopped visiting, and those dependent on their assistance were suffering.

Her story reminded me of Tafadzwa Muropa’s recent reflections on home based care. As she put it,

I would like to share my experiences and views in relation to how I see the state of Home Based Care in Zimbabwe and how it is evolving, since most care givers are women, who have a double burden of taking care of the clients who are bedridden in most cases, and also have other responsibilities at home.

My concern lies in the state’s response to the question of not acknowledging the efforts put by women in HBC, by offering them stipends, allowances, or remuneration, especially during these harsh economic times.

Her piece raises concerns similar to those my friend found. Home based care provides individuals with care and support which the state is not currently providing them.

In a recent interview, Lynde Francis, the director of The Centre, observed that the current economic situation is so bad, some Zimbabweans are trying to pretend they are HIV-positive, so that they can benefit from the services and food parcels that those living with HIV have access to.

But when will government prioritise care for its citizens and step into the void which home based care givers and other service organisations are now trying to fill? As those who can increasingly opt-out of Zimbabwe and try their luck in the Diaspora, who is left to care for those in need? How do we support care givers so that they stay engaged, and don’t give up because the are feeling overwhelmed or taken advantage of? Home based care givers are currently providing an essential service of physical, nutritional, moral, psychological and even spiritual support to many of the quarter of all Zimbabweans currently estimated to be infected with HIV. Ever adaptable, Zimbabweans are finding new and creative ways to adapt to the growing strain of life here. Even as we do so, let us not forget the importance of demanding that government also fulfill its responsibilities.

2 comments to “Home based neglect?”

  1. Comment by Women of Color Blog » Links:

    [...] Kubatana.net: Home based care in a time of statewide economic crisis [...]

  2. Comment by Japhet MM in Zambia:

    Interesting to note of the trouble care givers go through. There is a multilemma in Zimbabwe and I thank you all who are doing services of care giving in the face of harsh economic and political situations.