By Tendai Rupapa
FIRST Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has paid tribute to frontline health workers countrywide for the work they are doing in mitigating the effects of Covid-19 and urged the country’s citizenry to embrace the vaccination programme currently underway.
Amai Mnangagwa is Zimbabwe’s health ambassador and has been at the forefront of educating the citizenry on how to prevent the killer pandemic, which has claimed nearly 1 500 lives since last year when it started affecting the country.
Through her Angel of Hope Foundation, she has also been mobilising resources like face masks, sanitisers, toiletries and food to ease the plight of women, children, the elderly and the disabled, among many other vulnerable groups.
In a first of its kind heart-to-heart interface with frontline health workers from Harare City Council, the First Lady said she was grateful for the great service health workers rendered to the nation.
The meeting was held at City Sports Centre, which was identified by City of Harare as one of the Covid-19 testing centres.
The First Lady also interacted with people who had come for testing and thanked them for taking the bold step.
“I have come to meet you (health workers) personally without sending anyone, so you can hear me speak from the bottom of my heart,” she said. “I want to thank you my children because you have always been there.
“Even from the time I was born you were there. When I gave birth to my children you were there. Today we have come across many challenges and diseases in our country and you are still there.
“We have diabetics, the hypertensive and those affected by many diseases. Whoever feels pain rushes to the hospital. They do not rush to the walls of hospitals, but to people who are yourselves. You collect us from our homes and examine us in ambulances so that we do not die and hand us over to doctors. The work you do is hard and requires dedication.”
The First Lady said Covid-19 had wreaked havoc across the globe, but health workers remained steadfast in their work.
“You, as frontliners representing those in your profession countrywide, including those across the provinces, at border posts and in highways – as a mother I have to congratulate you all for the dedication you have shown through ensuring that people survive,” she said.
“Yes, when its time some people die from ailments, but that would not be your wish. That is not what you want nekuti imi muripo mukuyedza kuraramisa nekuchengetedza hupenyu hwevanhu. During this pandemic, you have all fought very hard and look now because of your zeal you have managed to save people’s souls.
“Pakauya chirwere ichi vanhu munharaunda vaitotiza vakanzwa kuti hama yabatwa chirwere ichi asi imi maivepo pakubatsira, musingatize. I have come to congratulate you all for your bravery and dedication. I have come saAmai kuti nditi on behalf of all women countrywide, we are grateful. Yours is a calling and may the Lord continue to bless and lead you. You are all in our prayers.”
The mother of the nation encouraged the whole nation to embrace the vaccination programme rolled out by the Government to ensure everyone survives. She added that if people were left behind, they would remain in the disease circle which would not help the efforts being displayed.
“The Covid-19 jab has come and you our frontline workers are running with it,” she said. “I want to thank all those who have come forward to be tested. There are many others who do not come forward to be tested out of fear. They think a positive result means death. That is no longer the case because once you have been tested you are put on treatment early.”
Amai Mnangagwa said Covid-19 had presented a learning opportunity for health workers who now knew more than they did when the virus started attacking the country last year.
“I urge those who have not been tested to come forward because once one is tested, it becomes easy for health practitioners,” she said. “They will find you in a far better position than presenting for treatment when the damage would have already been done.
“Come and get the jab because if you are left behind, the disease will come. Our Vice President already got the jab, the President and myself will also follow suit when the other consignment of vaccines arrives. Why should one refuse to be vaccinated? This is an opportunity to protect ourselves as a nation against the pandemic.”
Being vaccinated, the First Lady said, would reduce lockdowns and enable citizens to look after their families.
“We have seen how hard lockdown is and the challenges it has presented. Please lets come out and be vaccinated. The whole world is being vaccinated, let us follow suit,” she said.
The First Lady said even when one was vaccinated, it was necessary to be cautious and continue using masks, washing hands and observing social distancing.
The health workers felt the motherly love and warmth when Amai Mnangagwa personally prepared lunch for them. She cooked rice in peanut butter, sadza, roasted chicken, beef stew and vegetables.
She served them the meal, while interacting with them. The First Lady urged the frontline workers to have a mother-child relationship with her, adding that whatever she did was non-partisan.
As part of her efforts to appreciate the health workers, the First Lady gave them an assortment of foodstuffs that included mealie meal, rice, sugar, cooking oil and flour.
She also gave them washing powder, laundry soap and buckets.
Speaking at the same occasion, City of Harare Health Services director Dr Prosper Chonzi thanked the First Lady for sparing a thought for frontline health workers.
“We want to thank Amai, our First Lady, for appreciating our frontline workers,” he said. “Those who met Amai today are first responders. These are the people who respond first before a patient is taken to hospital. They go to patients’ homes, pick them up and they also go to accident scenes and pick people up from there. For Covid-19, these are the very people who will be exposed at the very first instance. They are also the ones doing tests in communities and also at this centre.”
An ecstatic Mrs Anymore Chimwenyi, a frontline health worker, said it was pleasing to be remembered.
“Today, I want to thank the mother of the nation who has come to be with us,” she said with a broad smile. “She prepared us a healthy, delicious lunch which she served us, something that we had never experienced. On top of that, she gave us groceries and thanked us for the work we are doing as the rapid response team. We shall continue working hard with dedication until the pandemic is over.”