Women dance as they welcomed and celebrated Amai Mnangagwa’s initiatives to get them screened for breast and cervical cancer in Harare yesterday. Picture: John Manzongo

RESIDENTS of Harare South were yesterday gratified when health ambassador First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa visited Tariro Clinic in Hopley with health personnel offering screening of cervical, breast and prostate cancers, among other non-communicable diseases (NCDs), to allow for early detection of ailments and treatment.

Cancers and other NCDs are better managed when detected early.

There was a total package of health services under one roof, including HIV testing and counselling services, hypertension checks and diabetic tests.

This comes at a time when residents were failing to have regular health checks as advised by experts due to prohibitive costs.

First Lady brings health services to Hopley
Women queue at an Angel of Hope Foundation mobile clinic to get screened for cervical and breast cancer courtesy of Amai Mnangagwa in Hopley, Harare yesterday. Picture: John Manzongo

The checks come at a time when the world is commemorating breast cancer month.

Amai Mnangagwa said it was her wish for citizens to seek treatment early to save lives.

She also held an interactive session with residents during which she decried the surge in drug abuse and domestic violence.

“I have come with my Angel of Hope Foundation’s mobile clinic for cancer screening with the aim of assisting women to be screened of this troublesome disease. Cancer is affecting people worldwide including in our motherland, Zimbabwe. Many are delaying in getting screened and examined and will be diagnosed when it’s already too late,” she said.

The First Lady said her mobile clinic had machinery that enabled people to be screened and know their status in no time.

“I want to thank the health experts who are helping us screen people and teach them how they can self-examine themselves of breast cancer at home. Cervical cancer needs to be examined by health practitioners. Please do not leave this place without utilising the services on offer,” she said.

The First Lady said cancer was a deadly disease that causes cells to grow irregularly affecting the normal functions of other parts of the body.

“This disease can affect any part of the body and has nothing to do with age. Cancer affects everyone. Eyes are affected, the skin, the neck, the stomach, the intestines are also affected,” she said.

Amai Mnangagwa voiced concern over the consumption of intoxicating substances by people countrywide.

“The mother, father, son and daughters are all affected. These intoxicating substances they are consuming are dangerous. Imagine, when high a person goes for days in that state. You will not be eating anything during this time and it means you will be eating up your body. By the time you wake up you will be finished. We must look after ourselves properly. Cancer is not selective and no one can overcome it,” she said.

The First Lady said it was critical for women to self-examine their breasts before seeking medical advice.

“Health experts say women living with HIV are susceptible to contracting cervical cancer. We also have ourselves to blame on cervical cancer,” she said before inviting the public to highlight some practices which were causing cervical cancer.

One participant said most women were susceptible to cancer because they applied muti on their private parts to lure men.

“Some women are using magical potions to live well with their husbands and this causes cancer,” she said to applause.

“Where do those magical portions come from? Please go and throw them away. Also, do not eat a lot of unhealthy things,” the First Lady said.

“Smoking and having multiple sexual partners increases the prospects of contracting cancer. To prevent this disease, do not have multiple sexual partners. Stop smoking and taking beer excessively. Let’s consume traditional dishes,” she said.

During the highly interactive session, the First Lady spoke candidly against domestic violence whose causes crept up significantly during the Covid-19 lockdown period.

First Lady brings health services to Hopley
Women listens and interacts with First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa (out of picture) after they were screened for cervical and breast cancer in Hopley, Harare, yesterday.

She asked the gathering who was behind the violence in the homes and one woman said women were to blame, triggering laughter from the crowd.

“Women, why are we doing this?” asked Amai Mnangagwa.

A male participant blamed the surge in violence on the conferment of rights on women.

“When women are given their rights, they fancy themselves bulls in the home. So as men we burst that bubble. They do not understand that their rights do not give them the place of men in the home and we correct them using slaps,” he said.

In response, the First Lady said fighting was not a solution but couples needed to have dialogue and iron out differences amicably.

Another woman said: “For violence to start in the home, I am saying from the little that my husband is getting we must send children to school and buy food for them. But the money is being channelled to girlfriends. The moment I ask how his day was, he becomes violent because the money would have vanished. These men are causing violence and children are no longer attending school. Do I have to continue suffering alone as the husband enjoys with girlfriends?”

The First Lady concurred and said girlfriends were destroying homes and men should respect their wives and give them access to work for the success of the family.

After hearing a lot of responses, the First Lady urged couples to live in harmony and urged communities to make use of her toll-free number 575 to report cases of domestic violence or any forms of abuse.

On Covid-19, the mother of the nation implored residents to observe World Health Organisation protocols to keep the pandemic at bay.

Furthermore, she urged the community to embrace Covid-19 vaccination.

In her remarks at the function, Ms Harriet Kongin on behalf of UNAIDS country director, Sophia Monico Mukasa, said the United Nations family applauded the First Lady for developing a very focused and relevant strategic framework of engagement on HIV, health and development.

“We are delighted to be part of the cancer screening event today at the Hopley Tariro Clinic. We thank you Your Excellency for advocating for the prevention and management of cervical cancer.

“Your Excellency, cervical cancer accounts for 13,1 percent of all new cancers affecting women globally. HPV (Human papillomavirus) is the primary cause of 99,7 percent of all cervical cancers and is sexually transmitted just like HIV. In Zimbabwe, cervical cancer remains the most frequent of new cancer cases among women (3,043 in 2020).

“It is also reported that women living with HIV are 6 times at higher risk of cervical cancer. Therefore, it is important that as we address the issue of cervical cancer, we also emphasise the importance of HIV prevention and management. Continuous cancer screening and referral for treatment will help with early detection and treatment thus saving lives. Young women between age of 15-24 are particularly vulnerable to both diseases and therefore, a focused approach targeting AGYW (Adolescent Girls and Young Women) is desirable,” she said.

UNAIDS, she said, was pleased to partner with the office of the First Lady as she champions the prevention and management of cervical cancer in communities.

“This disease can be managed as it is preventable and treatable. We must therefore avert any further deaths due to cervical cancer and even Aids. For HIV, we recognise and applaud the progress Zimbabwe has made in reducing new infections and putting over one million people on treatment.

“The war is however not over. We also know that we still have 38 000 new infections annually and that adolescent girls and young women, men and children are population left behind. Although cervical cancer is the most diagnosed cancer among women in Zimbabwe, access to screening and treatment services remains a challenge.”

She however applauded the health ambassador for giving people access to screening services at their door steps.

Speaking at the same occasion, Dr Collen Madembo, the Harare City Council reproductive health manager, praised the First Lady for committing time to address issues that affect women.

“It is at this time that our mother has come to this place not that with cervical cancer awareness, but with a complete package that deals with most or the most common cancers in our setting that is breast cancer, cervical cancer and also other health related issues like HIV screening,” he said.

Dr Madembo said the wellness package provided by the First Lady was immensely beneficial for the community as it also coincided with the breast cancer awareness month.

Gogo Margret Muzambe (58), a resident of Harare South was happy for the services.

“I just do not know how best I can thank the First Lady. Since Independence in 1980, we had never seen this love. She is helping us a lot at a time when health checks are beyond reach,” she said while shedding tears of joy.

Equally elated was Gogo Martha Mandipera (79).

“If it were not for the First Lady, who would have done this for us. God is great. That woman is being used by God to spread love and sound teachings to the nation. We wish her well for giving us access to sound healthcare and checks,” she said.

Amai Mnangagwa also distributed food hampers and toiletries to the elderly members of the community.

SOURCE: The Sunday Mail

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