Auxilia Katongomara Bulawayo Bureau
First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa yesterday signed the Barcelona Declaration on Tuberculosis (TB) and the Bulawayo Declaration on HIV and TB, emphasising the importance of health education. The First Lady, who is the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s official cervical cancer ambassador and Minister of State for the Metropolitan Province of Bulawayo Angeline Masuku signed the declarations.
They joined scores of other politicians who have signed it.
The Barcelona Declaration is the founding document of the Global TB Caucus, created in October 2014, when the Union and the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on TB co-organised the first Global TB Summit in over 100 years.
The Declaration is open to any political representative in the world to sign and is a demonstration of support and solidarity for efforts to end the TB pandemic.
It is designed to raise the profile of the disease among politicians and is a tool for advocates wishing to engage local decision-makers.
In Zimbabwe, 140 political leaders have signed the declaration to date.
Speaking during the handover of 11 television sets from National Aids Council to the Bulawayo City Council for the promotion of information on various diseases at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair yesterday, the First Lady said: “Health education has played a key part in this scale-up as it has empowered our people with the correct and appropriate information for behaviour change and utilisation of prevention services.
“We have to sustain the approach and enhance it with the use of technology through which various topics such as HIV prevention, TB awareness, prevention and treatment can be tackled continuously and be re-enforced through strategies such as drama, music and poetry.”
She continued; “The TV sets that are being handed over today to Bulawayo City will go a long way in information dissemination particularly now as Zimbabwe tackles epidemics of HIV, TB and non-communicable diseases in particularly cervical cancer.”
The First Lady encouraged content producers to target men in their campaigns as most were reluctant to undergo tests.
“I would like to encourage the clinics and committees that would be responsible for the production of the programmes that would be shown on TV to also deliberately engage men with relevant and appealing messages to take up health services and also support their partners,” she said.
The cancer ambassador said it was sad that the nation continues to lose women due to lack of knowledge of cervical cancer which constitutes over 35 percent of the new cancer cases recorded each year in Zimbabwe.
“What is particularly sad is that most women die due to lack of information and stigma associated with cervical cancer,” she said.
The First Lady said she was honoured to officiate at such a function.
“It is an honour to have been requested to be guest of honour at this ceremony and to show leadership to ending TB and HIV through the signing of the Barcelona Declaration on TB and the Bulawayo Declaration on HIV and TB.
“I am also honoured that I have been requested to hand over to the Bulawayo City Council television sets which have been procured by NAC to enhance dissemination of information on HIV and TB, non-communicable diseases and other health conditions which affect our people,” she said.
Health and Child Care Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa commended the First Lady for her vision and support.
“We want to close that tap where new infections are coming from and these new infections are coming from commercial sex workers, long distance truck drivers, prison settings. In the general population the percentage of HIV infections is 14 percent and in prisons it’s 28 percent so it’s an area that we must close and young people particularly young women in institutions of higher learning, colleges and polytechnics. So please Amai may you talk to the young people because that’s where STIs and HIV infections are most prevalent,” he said.
Minister of State for Bulawayo Masuku said the city remained committed to the fight against HIV/AIDS.
BCC director for Health Services Mr Edwin Sibanda thanked NAC for giving council TV sets.
“We have 19 clinics and one infections clinic. We are ready to receive more television sets and they will be for information dissemination only,” said Mr Sibanda.
Soon after the ceremony, the First Lady toured several exhibition stands, including Hall 5 for Zanu-PF exhibitions and her first stop was the Office of the First Lady.
She proceeded to the Commissariat stand and other small to medium enterprises stands before her last stop at the Women’s League stand where she spent more time.