By Tendai Rupapa
Scores of men and women countrywide are trooping to local medical health centres to be screened of all types of cancer as First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s awareness programmes on the dangers of the silent killer disease continue to pay off.
Amai Mnangagwa’s campaign took her to Mhangura, Mashonaland West Province yesterday, where she interacted with scores of women and men who appreciated the lifesaving work she is doing.
The Angel of Hope Foundation patron, who is also the country’s Health and Child Care Ambassador, has been going across Zimbabwe raising awareness on the need for women to be screened on time.
Yesterday, she carried with her a mobile clinic resulting in thousands of Mhangura residents getting screened of cervical, breast and prostate cancer.
“I have come to be with you today so that we educate each other on health matters, encouraging ourselves to get checked always for certain ailments including non-communicable diseases,” she said.
“Cancer has been there since time immemorial, but has not been given the attention it deserves compared to other diseases such as HIV and Aids.
“The more we talk about cancer screening, the more people get to know about the silent killer and if one is checked early, it can be treated.”
She said some people are not keen to be tested of HIV and Aids even though it was through blood tests that one would be checked for other ailments such as diabetes.
“I led by example and got screened for cervical and breast cancer recently so if I did it, why can you not do the same?” she queried.
The First Lady encouraged couples to be faithful to one another to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. Amai Mnangagwa also became an aunt to the girl child, advising them on the dangers of early marriages.
The First Lady also toured Makonde Christian Hospital where she donated clothes and various baby kits to new born babies and expecting mothers. Among those who delivered at the hospital was Ms Gertrude Kanyama who gave birth to triplets; two boys and a girl.
Amai Mnangagwa pledged to assist Ms Kanyama in the upkeep of her children.
She now has seven children including a set of twins.
Director of family health in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Bernard Madzima said the First Lady’s high level advocacy and awareness campaign has seen more women and men getting screened in the last two years.
“In 2018, over 120 000 women were screened and we are now in the third quarter of 2019 and we have already surpassed 200 000.
“People are now talking about cervical, breast and prostate cancer, they are visiting health centres countrywide asking questions and getting screened something that never used to happen.
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“They are now aware of the benefits of getting screened early. This high level advocacy is really paying off in terms of us reaching our targets as a ministry and for that we want to thank our ambassador, the First Lady,” said Dr Madzima.
She said the First Lady’s advocacy will see the ministry achieving its vision of having 90 percent of women screened and treated.
“If we are to look at strategies which are advocated for by the World Health Organisation (WHO), one of them is highest level commitment in advocacy and by doing so, we are able to mobilise resources from international organisations and engaging in bilateral and multilateral partnerships,” he said.
Amai Mnangagwa is also vice president of the Organisation of African First Ladies (OAFLAD), whose vision is to have a developed Africa with healthy and empowered women and youth.
Minister of State for Mashonaland West Province, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka and Mhangura Constituency legislator Precious Chinhamo-Masango attended the event.