Tendai Rupapa in MVURWI
MVURWI residents were last week accorded free cervical, breast and prostate cancer screening services, HIV testing and counselling, hypertension and diabetes checks, courtesy of First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and her Angel of Hope Foundation’s efforts to ensure access to improved healthcare for all.
So passionate about the health of citizens is the First Lady with her Angel of Hope Foundation’s mobile clinic traversing the length and breadth of the country with a team of medical experts to screen men and women of cancers and doing checks for other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Amai Mnangagwa urged people to constantly undergo medical check-ups to allow for early diagnosis of NCDs and treatment of these ailments.
Free male circumcision and family planning services were also on offer, ensuring people had access to health services of their choice.
The move followed the realisation by the First Lady who is the country’s health ambassador that most people failed to seek treatment due to lack of awareness.
She also took advantage of the screening session to educate people on the importance of embracing Covid-19 vaccination and tackled various issues affecting the community including early child marriages, drug and alcohol abuse among youths, a surge in rape cases in communities and domestic violence.
“I have visited this place, Muswewenhede Clinic, which I heard you started putting together on your own so that you could get somewhere to access treatment. You all contributed to the establishment of the clinic in various ways and let me say your work was not in vain. The centre will not collapse because saAmai I have set foot here,” she said.
In an interactive session with the community, the First Lady outlined that non-communicable diseases were becoming more prevalent and educated the community on the importance of undergoing regular check-ups.
“Cancer has stages and health authorities urge us to seek treatment early. If detected early, they can take measures to stop it from spreading to other parts of the body. We hear prostate cancer is also affecting men. It starts at around 40 so we want you screened and treated. I have brought the mobile clinic which I want you to make use of,” she said.
On Covid-19 vaccination she said; “Let’s also be vaccinated to protect our health and look after our families. All the marketplaces and places from where we earn a living can be reopened if we embrace vaccination. We should follow Covid-19 protocols to keep the pandemic at bay. We want normalcy to return”.
Child delinquency was also topical and it came out during the meeting that insistence on respect for children’s rights was largely to blame for the surge in immorality, lawlessness and disrespect among today’s youths.
“During the time we grew up, a child would be counselled threw spanking. A father would beat up a naughty child, but if you do that today you are reminded the child has his rights. That same child will get you arrested, so what should I do with the naughty child who is hiding under these rights?” said a concerned mother to applause.
The First Lady concurred and said the issue of rights was affecting children, but further informed the community that the rights were not only for Zimbabwe but globally.
“It was agreed globally that children have their rights. And now that the children are now wiser, they are hiding behind these rights. These are the rights that are leaving them pregnant. The rights have left diseases for them.
“We must talk about this because the children have no future if they continue with this kind of behaviour they are exhibiting these days and at school they are also not taking their studies seriously. When I was coming here, I passed many young girls with babies strapped on their backs meaning they are rushing into sexual activities before the time is right,” she said.
The health ambassador said there were conditions like obstetric fistula which affected young women who rushed to have babies before their time was ripe.
An elderly man said greed was contributing to mischief and lawlessness in children because some mothers were letting their daughters sleep with older men in the quest to make money.
In response, the First Lady said parents were role models to their children and should act with dignity at all times.
“Elders in communities must play their traditional roles of imparting wisdom in youths so that we fight teenage pregnancies, immorality, dis-respectfulness, drug and alcohol abuse among other vices now generally associated with today’s youths,” she said.
Swept by a tied of emotion, a woman told the First Lady that children were being raped by elder members of the community who are supposed to protect and guide them.
“I am bitter Amai by the surge in rape cases in our communities. The men who are doing this are old enough to be their fathers.
“You see a 45-year-old man raping a 13-year-old girl. In ward 30 there is a man who has grown infamous for raping children. My daughter was also raped by this man and it is so painful. The case is before the courts,” she said wiping tears.
The First Lady pleaded with the police to closely monitor the allegations raised by the communities saying out of fear, some people fail to report to the police.
She added that platforms like the interactive session she had with them, helped people to speak out.
The participants hailed the First Lady’s countrywide Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba and Nharirire yeMusha programmes and pleaded with her to bring the same programmes to their area for their benefit.
Issues around child marriages in the province were also discussed.
Amai Mnangagwa said churches must not promote child marriages and families must desist from using young girls to appease avenging spirits in what is commonly known as kuzvarira in Shona.
She also spoke candidly against horseplay, “chiramu” which she said did not always have happy endings.
During the interactive session, the First Lady also heard that some unscrupulous money-hungry villagers were erecting cabins in areas full of illegal miners who were using young girls by exposing them to drugs and sexual activities.
The cabins are used as lodges.
The First Lady again implored with the police to look into the matter and take action against the young girls being forced into illicit activities.
As the environmental patron, Amai Mnangagwa spelt the need for communities to preserve the environment and desist from the wanton cutting down of trees which caused erosion.
She also promoted the consumption of indigenous dishes which has high nutritional value and medicinal properties.
Mrs Belina Munakamwe expressed gratitude to the First Lady for the free cancer screening sessions.
“I am truly thankful to the First Lady for the love she has shown to us. We cannot afford transport to travel to health centres for checks and what she has done for us is commendable.
“At times people live with diseases unknowingly due to lack of awareness but today our mother has educated us and we promise to do regular check-ups to protect our health,” she said.
Mashonaland Central Provincial Medical Director Dr Clemence Tshuma praised the First Lady’s outreach awareness campaign saying it would help increase the uptake of the various health services on offer.
“We are happy with the outreach done by the First Lady which offered a number of services with the main one being cervical, breast and prostate cancer screening.
“We also had vaccination for Covid-19, HIV counselling and testing services. We also had voluntary medical male circumcision and family planning as well. This means people who came were able to get different services they wanted. Before this visit, we mainly used this place for vaccinating infants under two years of age,” he said.
“We had a challenge of Covid-19 vaccination in the area as some people were listening to falsehoods on social media however, the First Lady’s visit and teachings made people understand the importance of getting vaccinated.
“We are going to witness an increase in numbers seeking the service. The same applies to cervical cancer screening because there are many people who could not access the service we offered at Howard, Concession and Mvurwi, but today Amai brought her mobile clinic for them,” he said.
Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Monica Mavhunga praised the First Lady for her great show of love for the people in her province and the country at large.
Adding colour to the event, was the presence of popular comedienne Felistus Murata, popularly known as Mai Titi who expressed a desire to work with the First Lady in her various programmes.
Mai Titi who is living positively, paid glowing tribute to the First Lady for her awareness campaigns in communities saying such initiatives save lives.
“Amai, I have been seeing you doing wonderful deeds for this country. I am a woman living with HIV, but when you look at me this is not visible. When I see Amai helping women and doing her charity works I feel uplifted. This moved me as a woman to throw my weight behind her.
“I thank you for what you are doing. A woman is important and Amai saw the importance of the womenfolk. I encourage everyone to take their medication religiously for their various ailments so that we safeguard our lives.
“If you are HIV positive, it does not mean your life has ended, you must take your medication, live long and look after your children. Never feel embarrassed to seek a good life and treatment,” she said.