Park Town, Zimbabwe - On the outskirts of this beleaguered country's capital, Harare, is a free medical clinic run by a nurse midwife who provides what most people can't find in Zimbabwe today: a proper medical diagnosis. "Most people haven't been diagnosed yet and so they are just treating the symptoms," said Sister Nomhle Mtupha, who, with one aide's assistance, sees about 700 patients per month at Park Town Clinic. Her patients suffer from malnutrition, diarrhea, the flu, sores, hypertension, HIV/AIDS, and other ailments.
Zimbabwe's spiraling economic crisis has exacerbated the health crisis. Salaries have been rendered useless by the nation's hyperinflation. Doctors and nurses have stopped going to work in Harare's two leading hospitals. In addition, the country's complete breakdown in water and sanitation systems created last December's cholera epidemic.
Park Town Clinic was built by Ariadne Psillos, the granddaughter of Greek immigrants who came to Zimbabwe (then "Rhodesia") at the turn of the century. "We've always tried to see where we can serve the community and we thought that [the clinic] was one of the options as a family," said Psillos who runs a chocolate factory. Soon, people from the surrounding communities flocked to the clinic to receive free medical care. Her family also built St. Nektarios Orthodox Church that is attached to the clinic. The construction of both projects was blessed by His Beatitude Patriarch Petros VII of Alexandria and all Africa. Today, the church and clinic operate under the direction of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Zimbabwe.
IOCC recently delivered 200 boxes of medical supplies to Park Town. The shipment included antibiotics, intravenous fluids, over-the-counter drugs and supplies such as bandages, needles, gloves and thermometers. In January, IOCC delivered medical kits that treated 6,000 patients suffering from cholera.
Since 2004, IOCC has been serving the health needs of Africans and strengthening the local Orthodox Churches to support their communities.
IOCC is expanding its assistance to Zimbabwe and other sub-Saharan nations as part of its Africa Initiative.
As patients continue to pour into Park Town Clinic, Sister Nomhle tells an aide worker what is at the top of her wish list: antibiotics - across the board - for diabetics, hypertension, HIV - especially for children because people forget that children get this disease. She needs bandages, dressing, medication, etc. "Zimbabwe is a beautiful country, but we are in dire straits," she said simply. "We need help."