Some of the cancer and diabetic patients who invited First Lady Auxillia  Mnangagwa to Gokwe yesterday. — Pictures: John Manzongo

AFTER inviting First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, hundreds of people in Gokwe battling non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cancer and diabetes thanked their lucky stars yesterday after she visited their community to get an insight into challenges they were facing.

The First Lady is the country’s health ambassador.

She met with the patients at Chief Njelele’s homestead.

NCDs, also known as chronic diseases, are non-transmissible and are often persistent.

They include heart disease, cancer, diabetes mellitus and chronic lung disease, which kill thousands of people due to their expensive cost of treatment and lack of both hospital care and knowledge.

The mother of the nation took her time to understand the challenges they were facing and promised to bring along her Angel of Hope Foundation’s mobile clinic and health personnel to assist them for free.

After seeing her countrywide medical outreach programmes, the Gokwe community invited the First Lady and pleaded with her to visit them with her mobile clinic because they cannot afford medical bills.

They also said local health facilities were located far away and were difficult to access.

A 46-year-old patient, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they invited First Lady so that they could get assistance as cancer patients.

“We invited her so that we can be assisted. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and ever since, I have been relying on herbs because of lack of funds for treatment. Today (yesterday) we invited our mother so that we can narrate our challenges.

Cancer is so painful and that is why I had resorted to natural remedies since I had no choice but get whatever help I could. I am happy that our mother, the First Lady, promised to bring her mobile clinic and health experts so that we get checked for free,” she said.

Another patient, Gogo Christine Chimbindi (60), said she gave birth to 10 children but later developed pimples on her backside, which were diagnosed as cancer.

“I stopped visiting the clinic because of the distance to the nearest clinic from our village. Lack of funds also barred me from seeking treatment. I am thankful for the assistance that we are going to get from our mother, who promised to bring a team of medical experts providing free cancer screening services and other health checks. I was unsure of when I would be examined by doctors but our mother is now bringing them to us,” she said.

Mrs Agneta Masawi, who is diabetic, said she could not afford treatment costs and thanked Amai Mnangagwa for accepting their invitation.

“We know that our mother is a loving and caring woman who helps the vulnerable and those in difficult circumstances, and I am happy that she is here today to listen to our challenges following our invitation as a community.

“We are happy that she agreed to come back with solutions to some of our challenges. We do not afford medical treatment and we travel more than 10km to the nearest clinic, but Amai is bringing the clinic to our doorstep. In my case, one injection costs US$15 and it barely lasts five days,” she said.

Village head Mr Fanuel Charuma (67) said he was confident the First Lady’s intervention would ease his and other villagers’ plight.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“I am so delighted that she heard our challenges as cancer patients. For some years now I have been struggling to walk and to pass urine because of my condition. I had no one to turn to but today our mother gave us a shoulder to lean on and wiped our tears,” he said.

He urged other villagers to come out in the open if they are diagnosed with cancer so that if it is detected and treated early, one can actually live a healthy life.

“Some people hide their ailments for fear of stigmatisation but I have learnt that it is important to speak up and get help early. Due to stigma, many suffer in silence. When the First Lady brings her mobile clinic and health experts, I urge my fellow villagers to come in their numbers and get screened early for free. Early detection is key to successfully treating any form of cancer. As for myself, I chose to come out in the open so that I can be treated and fend for my family,” he added.

According to health experts, cancer patients seek treatment late, resulting in increased premature deaths.

Thirty-three-year-old Lindiwe Muguti, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, praised the First Lady for her outreach programme, saying it would go a long way in saving lives. Due to exorbitant medical fees, Lindiwe said she had decided to resort to natural remedies as an alternative.

Herbal medicine, she added, is a complementary therapy that some people with cancer use to ease cancer symptoms and treat side effects.

She thanked the First Lady for her efforts to ensure access to improved healthcare for all.

Chief Njelele’s wife, Mrs Virginia Njelele, thanked the First for having people at heart.

She commended Amai Mnangagwa for her tireless efforts in raising awareness on cancer and promoting cancer screening programmes.

The First Lady donated food hampers to the patients.

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 cancer and doing checks for other NCDs.

SOURCE: The Sunday Mail

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