Mash East communities hail First Lady . . .  AoHF, US, local health experts offer free medical services Health Ambassador and Angel of Hope Foundation founder and patron First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa interacts with some of the 25 medical doctors and nurses she invited from the United States through her Angel of Hope Foundation for medical outreach in Mashonaland East.

Tendai Rupapa in KOTWA

WIDOWED Gogo Sinikiwe Matenda from Mudzi has been losing weight significantly over the last couple of months and does not know what is eating her.

Previously known for her hard work which set her homestead apart from the rest in her village, owing to her illness, she no longer tends to her farming projects, which were her source of income.

With neither cash for medical bills nor someone to take her to hospital, she covers herself with a blanket and takes a nap under a huge mango tree in her yard hoping that one day she will recover her good health.

Fortuitously, health ambassador, First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa smiled on Gogo Matenda and thousands of other villagers in Mashonaland East Province when through her Angel of Hope Foundation mobilised a team of 25 medical professionals from the United States comprising of doctors, nurses and those from the humanitarian side and initiated a free medical outreach programme in Kotwa bringing the hospital and clinic to their doorstep.

The Americans have been working with the Angel of Hope Foundation since its inception long back.

When they started working with the AoHF, they were a small group and the numbers kept increasing such that they are now a big group with the American specialists from different fields expressing interest in working with the foundation.

The group is working with a local team comprising 40 nurses and 15 doctors to offer a myriad of services including dental services, eye clinic, family planning, mental health, visual inspection with acetic acid (VIAC), breast and prostate cancer screening.

Also on offer are HIV testing and counselling, doctor’s emergency rooms, an outpatient department, a mobile X-ray unit, an extended programme on immunisation (EPI) and a pharmacy.

People benefiting from the services are drawn from all the districts in the province and the programme is three days long. 

Amai Mnangagwa took her AoHF’s mobile clinic and ultra-modern, top-notch mobile hospital which consists of mammography, an ultrasound scan, gynaecological machinery and a radiation machine.

Mammography is the best way of detecting all types of breast cancer as it increases the detection of small abnormal tissue growths in the breast.

There are also several support tents on the ground serving people.

It is the first time that the mother of the nation has taken the ultra-modern mobile hospital to rural communities and have started with Mudzi.

When Dr Mnangagwa received the mobile hospital from Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko in recognition of her philanthropic work and efforts to transform the lives of vulnerable members of the community, she promised that the mobile hospital would benefit everyone including those in hard to reach areas.

She kept her promise and took it to the rural communities in Mudzi adding that she will take it to all the provinces.

Some of the medical equipment, medicines, clothes, toiletries and many other things sourced by Angel of Hope Foundation from its partners for the medical outreach in Mashonaland East.

Among many other places, the First Lady has taken the American medical team to Kanyemba’s Doma community, Chiredzi, Binga and Mola community in Nyaminyami, Kariba District, where some residents were afflicted by a rare condition of swelling stomachs resulting in them vomiting blood.

They were treated and the doctors diagnosed the condition as damage to the liver owing to untreated bilharzia. Villagers with aching teeth and decayed ones went home smiling after being served at the dental unit.

Not to be outdone were those with wounds that needed to be cleaned and dressed to ensure they healed well. Those with blurred vision returned home with spectacles after being attended to at the well-equipped eye unit.

It was also a lucky day for people affected by cataracts as they were quickly booked for free eye surgery at All Souls Mission in Mutoko.

Leader of the American team, Mr Eric Rose, expressed a deep love for Zimbabwe and said it was his 10th time in the country.

“For several years, we have been coming back to Zimbabwe to work with the Angel of Hope Foundation. When we come, we go to rural communities and hard-to-reach areas led by the First Lady Amai Mnangagwa. 

“We always love coming to Zimbabwe and AoHF is always with us in those areas. They bring so much great help to the people of Zimbabwe. We also love partnering with the Zimbabwean doctors and nurses that help us in our team,” he said.

Dr Rose said his team enjoyed working with Angel of Hope Foundation in providing health services to less privileged communities.

“The key focus for us and the Zimbabwean team is to provide many services to patients that we have and Amai makes sure we provide these services to less privileged communities. One of the best examples is Angwa, Mariga in Kanyemba and Mola in rural Kariba. We were there a few years ago. 

“Amai, through her foundation, built a clinic and a school for them. That was all because Angel of Hope Foundation had visited the areas and seen the needed things. Immediately, those services were provided. Amai is doing incredible work,” he said.

Mr Rose further praised the Second Republic, led by President Mnangagwa for investing significantly in infrastructural development.

“I have been coming to Zimbabwe for many years. In the last three to four years, we have seen progress in Zimbabwe. 

“When we landed in Zimbabwe, I said oh wow, look at this! The new airport is breathtaking. It is top-notch. Roads are also being constructed. 

“On the way to Kotwa, we were just seeing construction. The whole country is developing. I love the country and I love the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.

Dr Steven Banda, the Acting Chief Director for Policy, Planning and Health Economics with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, paid glowing tribute to the First Lady for her initiatives in the health sector.

He said the Ministry highly appreciates the First Lady’s efforts.

“Angel of Hope Foundation and its partners are working with the Ministry of Health to provide medical services to the people. 

“This programme brought by Amai will run from today (yesterday) and will last a couple of days. 

“Thousands of people have come and as a ministry, we are happy because we know that we are going to have our people who don’t have access to our services and this is the opportunity for us to make sure that they go through the necessary screening for various ailments, especially non-communicable diseases.” 

“With such initiatives, we can be able to achieve Vision 2030 of having people who are healthy,” he said.

Dr Banda said having a healthy nation was critical as it contributed significantly to national development. 

“A healthy nation is a wealthy nation. From here, what I want to say to Zimbabweans is that whenever they hear that there is medical outreach programme, they should come and present themselves because there is a lot that they will gain as individuals. 

“Your health is your responsibility, make sure that you come and go through the screening so that you can be tested for these other diseases that you might not even know that you are having. Health checks are important because you will be told if you have any condition that needs treatment. 

Women in Mashonaland East queue for cancer screening and treatment of other ailments from the new Angel of Hope Foundation ultra modern mobile hospital during a medical outreach organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa. Pictures: John Manzongo and Edward Zvemisha.

“We want to thank the First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa for organising this and also for championing this programme and making sure that AoHF is working together with the ministry through and through so that by the end of the day we will have our people with good health and good health as I have said is also part of the development of a nation,” he said.

Dr Banda praised the American team and said this was not the first time working with them having been mobilised by AoHF. 

“This is not the first time we have had this team conducting medical outreach. We have been into all other provinces and this is being done from through the foundation and her being our ambassador. 

“As the health ambassador, she is there to make sure that she delivers to each and every citizen in areas where these services are not available and we are there also to complement her efforts. So we would like to thank Amai for the good job that she is doing with her foundation and all the other partners,” he said.

Dr Dorcas Mutede, the director Family Health in the Ministry of Health and Child Care said she was grateful to the First Lady for having women and children at heart.

“We are truly thankful for the programme the First Lady has mobilised. We have mothers whom we are mainly focusing on knowing that nowadays we are hard-pressed with cervical and breast cancer for women. 

“Research shows that if someone comes forward and is diagnosed early, they can be assisted and we save a life. We have doctors who are here screening women and also men are being screened for prostate cancer. We have a mobile mammogram with experts who are also examining women. We also have a programme for monitoring children to ensure they receive their immunisation services and are inoculated. 

“We want to thank other doctors who are examining people who are diabetic and hypertensive and ensuring they are helped on time. 

“Some women are losing life while giving birth but if we plan our families those cases will fall. Family planning gives a woman time to plan as children grow well. The outreach has helped people get the services near them,” she said.

Dr Paul Matsvimbo, the Provincial Medical Director for Mashonaland East Province echoed the same sentiments.

“Today we are seeing the primary healthcare approach in practices and this is a model of service delivery which was adopted by our ministry in 1980. 

“Essentially, we bring services as close as possible to the people and today we are seeing a supermarket of various services. 

“It’s a one-stop approach. We are seeing that our communities today are receiving a cocktail of services. All these specialised services are here in Mudzi.

“If Amai, through Angel of Hope Foundation and partners had not brought this, it would have taken time for other people to receive such specialist services. 

“Today we are very happy and the communities are very happy to have been mobilised to come and receive these services free of charge. 

“It will go a long way to ensure that we have better health outcomes for communities like Mudzi which are far away from such services. 

“All the districts in the province have come. It has been oversubscribed but I want to assure everyone that they are all going to be served. 

“We have our doctors from all our districts and we also have a complement of other specialist services from America so it is oversubscribed and we will make sure that everyone goes home after being screened by our medical practitioners. 

“Our thematic pillar is health and well-being. Mental health is a very big determinant to our well-being so we have seen the toll that mental health has caused among our population, particularly with underlying factors like substance abuse. This will go a long way in making sure that the mental wellbeing of our communities will be improved,” he said.

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