Doctors and nurses carrying HIV meds are arrested in Zimbabwe

Jenny Decker RN's picture

In all, 5 Americans were arrested Thursday in Harare, Zimbabwe. 2 were doctors, 2 were nurses, and one was an organizer. The charges were that they did not carry licenses to distribute the HIV medications they had. They were to have appeared in court this morning, but according to their lawyer, Jonathon Samukange, the police had not finished their paperwork. In addition to the Americans, a Zimbabwean physician who was working with them was also arrested on similar charges.

The Americans worked with AIDS orphans and patients in a clinic. The doctors and nurses are part of a group who has worked with these children since 2000. Samukange states that they did have the necessary licenses, however, he expects things will go well on Monday.

AIDS related work in Zimbabwe began in 2000


Robert C. Scott, AIDS activist and doctor from the San Francisco area began the work in Zimbabwe in 2000 after he and other church members attended an international AIDs conference in South Africa. Apparently moved by what they saw, they were able to persuade their church to support the orphanage and begin to work with these children.

Scott died in 2009. However, the work continues. One of those arrested, Cox Crowell stated the one of the biggest motivators for wanting to help out in the country was when they saw little tiny crosses on the graves of little children who had died. Scott had said that he wanted to do something about it.

The American doctors and nurses belonged to the Allen Temple Baptist Church AIDS Ministry in Oakland, California. The church serves mainly African-American people. The doctors and nurses go to Zimbabwe about 3 to 4 times a year, and they even pay their own way. They take with them antiretroviral medication. Others have gone on the trips with them, including Arnold Perkins, retired public health director of Alameda County, California. He has seen these drugs save lives. He was heartbroken when he heard of the news, not only for the doctors and nurses involved, but for the fact that if the work is stopped that many people out there will die as they have no access to treatment for AIDS. Officials in Africa have often stated that AIDs was no more than an annoyance, thus the people have suffered severely because of lack of health care.