UMCOR Shipment of Medicine Arrives in Zimbabwe

February 26, 2009

A UMNS Report

By Michelle Scott*

Feb. 25, 2009

Containers of lifesaving medicine and other supplies from United Methodists have arrived in Zimbabwe.

The shipment is part of the United Methodist Committee on Relief's ongoing work to provide assistance to the African country in response to ever-widening cholera and financial crises.

Thirty-five Medicine Boxes, medical books and a microscope provide hope and help for people caught up in the continuing tragedy of a society in chaos. The 14,112 school kits give children basic supplies as schools prepare to reopen after being shuttered for months.

Each Medicine Box contains basic medical supplies to provide for a community of 1,000 people for three months. The sterile bandages, vitamins, antibiotics and other supplies in these boxes will assist 35,000 people over the next three months.

Muslim Aid, a UMCOR partner and United Kingdom-based relief agency, is providing further medical support. Its shipment brings one million tablets of Fluconazole, a drug used to treat fungal infections in AIDS patients and others, to United Methodist hospitals. Muslim Aid is also sending 100 Aquaboxes and 300 personal Lifestraw filters to be distributed to local communities to help stem the cholera outbreak that has so far sickened 83,000 people in the country.

Each Aquabox contains 30 filters. One filter provides nearly 300 gallons of clean drinking water. Altogether, the 100 Aquaboxes will deliver some 900,000 gallons of safe water for Zimbabwe communities - a precious commodity in cholera-ridden times. In addition to the filters, the Aquaboxes contain chlorine to treat other water sources. The 300 Lifestraws will provide an additional 200 gallons of clean water for each personal drinking straw.

The United Methodist Zimbabwe Annual Conference is working with UMCOR staff on the ground to ensure the supplies are delivered to United Methodist hospitals and cholera-affected communities.

Families to receive food

In addition to the medical supplies, UMCOR is delivering 400 metric tons of milled maize throughout 12 United Methodist districts in Zimbabwe. The shipment is scheduled to be delivered through the month of March.

The most vulnerable families -- selected by community leaders, including United Methodist district superintendents -- receive 55-pound bags of grain to supplement their meager diets. Approximately 16,000 families will receive this important food staple.

The situation in Zimbabwe remains dire despite reports of improvement in recent days. More than 3,800 people have died in the cholera epidemic that has swept the country for months. Hyperinflation has led to economic collapse. UMCOR and the United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe are working together to provide health care and food and water in the most difficult situations.

Donors can support UMCOR's efforts to give relief to the people of Zimbabwe by giving to UMCOR Advance #199456, Zimbabwe Emergency. Make contributions through local United Methodist churches or mail checks to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Write the Advance name and number on the check memo line. For credit card donations, visit UMCOR's Web site at for online giving information or call (800) 554-8583.

*Scott is the executive secretary for UMCOR communications.