Health Care = Peanuts?
Recently, The New York Times reported on the health care situation in turbulent Zimbabwe. Kathy McCarty, an American nurse working at Chidamoyo Christian Hospital in Zimbabwe reported being paid in peanuts, sacks of grain and other non-monetary forms of compensation. The virtual collapse of Mugabe’s economy and the worthlessness of Zim money have people bartering for medical attention. In turn health care providers turn peanuts and other food products into nutritional meals for sick patients.
The Times article explains, “For many rural Zimbabweans, cash remains so scarce that the 85-bed Chidamoyo Christian Hospital has continued to allow its patients to barter. Studies have found that fees are a major barrier to medical care in rural areas, where most Zimbabweans live.” The decision to barter non-monetary goods, turned medical supplies (food and nutrition for patients) in exchange for medical care creates an innovative and win-win situation for Zimbabwean patients.
During the hyperinflation and collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy in 2008 Chidamoyo kept its doors open as a result of patients providing necessary commodities to medical personnel. The staff of Chidamoyo Christian Hospital continues to barter using thrifty techniques to maximize their medical resources. Medical staff reuse latex gloves after sterilization, filling the gloves with water to ensure hole-free supplies. Nurses use cotton balls found in pill bottles to swab patients’ arms before injections.
Regardless of the imperfect Zimbabwean health system, the United States continues to swim in the chaotic, amoral world of health insurance companies, the never ending problem of lack of access to health care and confusing health care legislation. Luckily for Zimbabweans, they seem to have the whole thing figured out.
For more information, HERE is an interesting video recap!