The Sunday Mail
Lincoln Towindo in Marondera
First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday took her nationwide campaign against cervical cancer to Mashonaland East, where she called on women to take advantage of free screening offered at public health institutions.
The First Lady was at Marondera Provincial Hospital – her eighth visit to a major referral institution – where she also donated foodstuffs.
Amai Mnangagwa, who is the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s official cervical cancer ambassador, has undergone public screening for the disease in a bid to encourage other women to follow suit.
Since launching her awareness campaign early this month, thousands of women have been screened at public institutions and her mobile cancer screening bus.
After touring the hospital, Amai Mnangagwa said: “I have been going around provinces to referral hospitals donating foodstuffs and raising awareness on cancer. This was necessitated by the need to address the issue of inadequate food in hospitals and the increasing number of people dying from cancer.
“As you have all seen I have been to several hospitals – UBH in Bulawayo, Mpilo, Gweru, Kwekwe and Karanda – and today I am here in Mashonaland East. I have had an opportunity to familiarise myself with the hospitals, particularly the kitchens and the gardens.
“Cancer screening services were also offered to all who took the time to take part in this opportunity.”
Added the First Lady: “Last year, during my hospital visits I was enlightened on the various issues affecting the operations of our referral hospitals.
“One of the major challenges highlighted then was that of inadequate food in the kitchens to cater for the patients. This really touched my heart, because when someone is sick the expectation is for them to focus on getting better and not to worry about food.
“The issue of food for patients is very critical, not just food but a balanced diet, nutritious and consistent meals.”
Scores of women underwent free screening yesterday.
Health Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said the First Lady’s campaign had resulted in a steady growth in the number of women undergoing screening.
He said: “This programme has taken her to seven hospitals starting in Bulawayo, where she visited two hospitals, then to Kwekwe, and Gweru after, then yesterday she was at Karanda.
“As a ministry we are fighting a lot of diseases that include malaria, diarrhoea and cancer, to name a few. We have been fortunate this year in that we have the First Lady who has passion about raising awareness about these diseases.
“We sat as the ministry to decide exactly how we can have the First Lady help us; we then decided that she should be our ambassador. Cervical cancer is now one of the deadliest killers among our women, and it was then decided that the First Lady should be our leading advocate in this fight.”
Cervical cancer affects the lower part of the uterus (womb) and is strongly linked to an infection caused by human papilloma virus (HPV).
HPV can be spread through skin-to-skin contact, including during intercourse.
Statistics show that 2 270 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 1 451 die from the disease annually.
Deaths from cervical cancer can be reduced through early detection.