Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
The National Aids Council (NAC) has named First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe the cancer ambassador for the country to effectively respond to the emerging epidemic. Speaking during the organisation’s visit to Grace Mugabe Foundation in Mazowe yesterday, NAC chief executive Dr Tapuwa Magure said his organisation appreciated the philanthropic work being done by Dr Mugabe and its impact in the community.
Dr Magure said it was upon this background that NAC believed the First Lady would play a big role in raising awareness on early detection of cancers. “We would, therefore, be very proud and honoured if the First Lady Dr Amai accepts our humble plea for her to become a cancer ambassador in support of the national efforts to curtail cancer,” said Dr Magure. He said the country had over 800 000 orphans and other vulnerable children, 88 000 of which were in Mazowe District.
“The work you are doing here is, therefore, very important in the response to HIV and Aids as it seeks to mitigate the effects of the pandemic in the community and nation at large,” said Dr Magure. “We see it as complimentary to the mandate that was thrust upon our shoulders by Baba VaMugabe when through his visionary leadership, the NAC was formed.”
Dr Magure said it was also important to have an advocate of cancer at the highest level, especially now when the country was working on ending Aids by the year 2030 against increased cancer cases, some of which were HIV related. He said NAC believed Dr Mugabe would advocate for prioritisation of the diseases in resource allocation, particularly at this time when foreign currency was limited in the country.
Dr Magure said while the country made progress in response to HIV, a lot still needed to be done to further reduce transmission among populations where risk of transmission was still high. He said as cancer ambassador, the First Lady would assist in raising awareness on the importance of early testing of HIV and detection of cancer for prompt intervention.
According to the country’s disease burden, different types of cancers are emerging, claiming many lives, a majority of whom die without even accessing care. Speaking at the same occasion, Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Advocate Martin Dinha applauded NAC’s gesture, saying it indeed fits into the First Lady’s efforts.
“Your coming in here was long overdue,” he said. “You know Amai does not discriminate when she takes these children in care.” Adv Dinha said he was going to present NAC’s request to the First Lady. The team was allowed to tour the Grace Mugabe Junior and Secondary Schools, hostels, children’s home and interact with the children. NAC also handed over a $10 000 cheque to the Grace Mugabe Children’s Home.