Wanted: Health Care for Peanuts

Zimbabweans use peanuts as their only method of paying for health care.

What do peanuts have to do with going to the hospital in Zimbabwe? Apparently, everything. The New York Times reported on a rural hospital located in the poverty riddled prison state that is Zimbabwe. The people are so poor that they bring whatever they have—chickens, goats, and mostly peanuts—to barter for doctor visits.

The hospital, along with countless Zimbabweans, turned to barter in earnest in 2008 when inflation peaked at what the International Monetary Fund estimates was an astonishing 500 billion percent, wiping out life savings, making even trillion-dollar notes worthless and propelling the health and education systems into a vertiginous collapse.


Even though, according to WikiLeaks, the U.N. offered Mugabe a very attractive exit package, he hung on and his power sharing government has at least somewhat stabilized the country. Thanks to Mugabe, however, the World Health Organization paints an appalling picture of the country's health including a life expectancy of 44 years and a 75 percent chance of dying between the ages of 15 and 60.

While Zimbabwe has abandoned its currency and the economy has stabilized, according to The New York Times account, rural Zimbabweans have no access to the American dollar, their new currency and so the Chidamoyo Christian Hopsital allows patients to barter with peanuts or whatever they have. The hospital then uses the peanuts to make peanut butter.