Why HIV is bad for our African economies: Message to collegiates and African young people.

Sineke Sibanda

A few weeks ago, a local newspaper here in Zimbabwe published a story that despite an overal fair decline in cases of HIV in our country, about 3 provinces had inadvertently recorded a rise of upto approximately 3% in new infections, labeling them high speed hotspots. Of course I did not take heed to it at first as I thought it didn’t really concern me. But wait! I thought to myself. With issues like HIV that have no cure as yet, we might be in trouble if this trend keeps going on.

After a chat with a colleague, I was thinking through the bigger picture. For instance, what does it mean to have an active age-group being infected by HIV/AIDS? I thought through it in terms of how it affects our economy, and it was sad that we might be on a regressive course.

According to the World Health Organisation, Africa is still battling to contain the virus and subsequently its affecting economic development in most of our countries. Roberts, Dixon and McDonald (2002) in their health economics theory article (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1122139/) argue that HIV/AIDS reduces labour supply, and productivity, it also reduces exports while increasing imports.

True, this sort of situation is bound to happen in a situation where the workforce is weak and is largely on medication. It means we need more hospitals than we need to build new companies because at the end of it all, our people are more important than anything else. Because the people that are supposed to be manufacturing the drugs are off sick, it means we have to lose money through imports, low productivity and forget about the exports we could be making.

When I looked at it this way, that is when I thought its probably something we need to think about as young people of Africa with the hope of seeing Agenda 2063 come to fruition.

A case in point is Zimbabwe, where an annual budget is $4 billion, and of that amount, 8.3% (US$330.79 million)  (UNICEF, 2016) [https://www.unicef.org/zimbabwe/Zimbabwe_2016_Health_and_Child_Care_Budget_Brief.pdf] was dedicated to the health ministry. Sad to note that the ministry itself was worried that the allocation was very inadequate, this means only one thing, that we have more sick people and need to cultivate a culture of healthy living and avoid what we can.

What is more heartbreaking in the case in point is that the Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development was allocated 7.6% and these are the institutions that should device methods of making our countries better. Probably, if we had fewer sick people, we would have half of the health ministry allocation going toour science and technology development ministry. The UNICEF made this conclusion on the budget:
The 2016 health care allocation is 1.6% lower than the total budget allocated in 2013, mainly reflecting a weakening fiscal environment constraining government spending in general, and health & child care in particular, (UNICEF, 2016: 3)

This case is not only unique to Zimbabwe, I’m sure some countries share in this calamity too but it all calls us to do one thing, take possible action to save the future if we cannot save ourselves.

Depite some of these epidemics being those we can control, they have continued to keep us pre-occupied and subsequently stalling development. According to the Amfar (http://www.amfar.org/worldwide-aids-stats/) statistics, in 2015, there were 19 million people in East and Southern Africa—more than half of whom were women—living with HIV in eastern and southern Africa, and an estimated 960,000 people became newly infected.

In 2015, 470,000 people died of AIDS-related causes. Eastern and southern Africa accounts for 46% of the global total of new HIV infections. The statistics are not quite pleasing to be honest, so on a yearly basis, the world loses about 15 million people to HIV related deaths.

I don’t at all intend to paint a gloomy picture, but for something we can control as African college students and young people, we can surely do better to make our home a beter place. I’m also in search of ideas on how best we can work on this together. As we speak, according to the Economic theory predictions, the pandemic has already reduced average national economic growth rates by 2-4% a year across Africa. Imagine how else we could have used these ‘losses’…

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 CHLAMYDIA AND SUB-FERTILITY

Neddy Makonza| Nust-ZW

Thandiwe is a graduate from a prominent University in the country. Her wedding was so extravagant that all girls wished they were in her shoes. Being married to a renowned businessman in the city was her dream and a door to endless opportunities.

Ben, her husband, was so eager to have children and was disappointed when their first pregnancy was ectopic, a complication in which the embryo attaches out of the womb. However, they did not lose hope. They tried again and Thandiwe got another complication. The couple was hopeful that they would have a baby the natural way, hence, they refused the doctor’s advice on trying Assisted Reproductive Therapy(ART).

The sad couple later decided to seek medical counselling from a professional. They sat and held each other’s hands for comfort as Dr Newton looked at them above her spectacles.

Dr Newton gave them an endless list of the possible causes of tubal blockage, ectopic pregnancy and subfertility. She tried by all means to make the couple understand how vast the pathophysiology can be. However, the most common cause especially in Thandiwe’s age group and background was PELVIC INFLAMMATORY DISEASE (PID). It is very common amongst young ladies below 25 years and the most common cause are infections especially by Gonorrhea co infected by Chlamydia. The long-term effects of PID affects the reproductive tract leading to subfertility (difficulty in having a child), chronic pelvic pain and ectopic pregnancies in the future.

The couple was reassured and they agreed to try using ART was available at most clinics in the country.

This lead to a discussion of STIs,  in particular Chlamydia. JUST BECAUSE IT DOES NOT SHOW DOESN’T MEAN ITS NOT THERE.

The scariest thing about Chlamydia in particular as an STI is that most people who have chlamydia have no symptoms (about 75% women and 50 % men).

What is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium, Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia infections are extremely common affecting both females and males.

You can get chlamydia by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has chlamydia even if the male partner does not ejaculate. It can also be passed on to baby from an infected mother at childbirth and causes drastic damage to the baby. Any sexually active person can be infected with chlamydia. The greater the number of sex partners, the greater the risk of infection. If you get treated, it does not give you immunity to reinfection.

How can one reduce the risk of getting Chlamydia? The best answer is abstinence thus no risk to all STIs. However, measures can be taken to prevent acquisition and long term complications of the disease. Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STD test results; Using latex condoms every time you have sex and getting treatment early can be greatly effective to preserve the reproductive system.

The scariest thing about Chlamydia in particular as an STI is that most people who have chlamydia have no symptoms (about 75% women and 50 % men). If you do have symptoms, they may not appear until several weeks after you have sex with an infected partner. Even when chlamydia is asymptomatic, it can damage your reproductive system.

Symptoms

  • An abnormal vaginal discharge or from the penis
  • A burning sensation when urinating.
  • Pain and swelling in one or both testicles (although this is less common)

If the infection spreads from the cervix to the fallopian tubes some women still have no signs or symptoms; others have lower abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, fever, pain during intercourse, or bleeding between menstrual periods.

Chlamydia can be cured by a dose of antibiotics prescribed by the doctor. Care should however be taken not to abuse these medications as resistance to them can occur. Treatment of all the partners is vital to eliminate the disease completely and also retest to make sure there is no reinfection. Abstinence from sex until treatment is complete prevents further spreading. Having multiple infections increases a woman’s risk of infertility

The most common test to detect chlamydia infection in women involves taking a swab from the cervix during a speculum exam and the swab is tested for chlamydia DNA. The problem with this test is that it does not tell the physician how long the infection has been present or how severe the infection is and whether the woman with the infection has sustained tubal damage. The swab test can also miss an infection that has moved up into the uterus or tubes and is no longer in the cervix.

Blood tests can also be performed to detect the antibodies the body makes when exposed to the Chlamydia bacteria. These blood test are fairly predictive for finding women with tubal damage during laparoscopy. These tests are not so reliable thus ‘PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE’

ART is available but very expensive thus not accessible to everyone. Therefore, it is better to keep your tubes open and prevent infection by abstaining from sex, practicing safe methods of sex, being faithful to one partner and getting treatment early.

CHLAMYDIA CAN BE INVISIBLE BUT THE CONSEQUENCES CAN BE CATASTROPHIC.

 

Just In Case You Missed it: December 2016 Issue Preveiw

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On the Cover : uBabes we Swagg ,Aremokeng Swene.

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Contents :

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Lifestyle news:

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Focus

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Inspiration:Engineer par excellence, visionary, leader: Donald Mjonono.

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Campus Voices

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Read the whole digital magazine below: