30 January 2018

Zimbabwe: First Lady Vows to Keep Up HIV, Aids Fight

Photo: Joseph Nyadzayo/The Herald
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa mingles with other first ladies at the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS meeting at African Union Building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday vowed to lead Zimbabwe's fight against HIV and Aids through dolling out mobile clinics across the country and intensifying awareness campaigns. Speaking on the occasion of the 20th Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV and AIDS (OAFLA) Ordinary General Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the First Lady said Zimbabwe had registered tremendous progress in the fight against HIV.

The meeting ran from January 25 to 29 and came as African Heads of States also met in Addis Ababa for the Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union on January 28 and 29. President Mnangagwa attended the AU meeting of Heads of States.

"Personally, I undertake to champion the fight by going out there to the remote and disadvantaged areas with mobile clinics to improve access to health services," said the First Lady. "I will also scale up awareness campaigns through mobilisation of critical stakeholders who include traditional leaders, the Chiefs and church organisations. These will assist in conscientising communities on child marriages, child abuse and child survival."

This was her maiden appearance at the prestigious event after President Mnangagwa came into office in November last year. "I must emphasise that although I am new in my capacity as the First Lady of Zimbabwe, I am not new to issues around HIV and AIDS, maternal child mortality and empowerment of women," she said.

"I am a Member of Parliament of a constituency for four years now, championing the transformation of the most vulnerable groups in our society." Some of the initiatives she has spearheaded include coming up with women's banks in her constituency, encouraging women to own livestock and raise school fees for their children and encouraging women to give birth in hospitals. She has also led building of shelters for pregnant women to be closer to hospitals when they are due to avoid complications, especially for the new young married women, gender equality programmes, abolishment of child marriages, pushing for strict jail terms for abuse of minors and rape and provision of safe sanitary wear for young girls.

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