New York — Zimbabwe's health sector is poised for a major boost, as local doctors will soon start receiving specialised training on handling non-communicable diseases at Harvard University in the United States.
The deal is a culmination of a partnership the university has forged with First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa.
The First Lady, through her Angel of Hope Foundation, has rolled out cancer-screening programmes countrywide to ensure every woman is screened of cervical and breast cancer, while men get checked for prostate cancer and those found to be affected get early treatment.
Amai Mnangagwa is the country's Health and Child Care Ambassador.
Speaking at a meeting held on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Director of Global Health Catalyst at Harvard Medical School Professor Wilfred Ngwa and his delegation, that included Assistant Professor Aditi Hazra and Dr Oscar Nebangwa, said they had been following Amai Mnangagwa's works, especially in the health sector.
The First Lady narrated to the delegation how she conducts her humanitarian work through her Angel of Hope Foundation and outlined the challenges she faced.
Some of the challenges included limited resources for her outreach programmes like mobile clinics that she uses to reach out to those in remote areas.
She highlighted shortages of cervical cancer screening equipment and lack of support for the cancer treatment programme, adding that it was beyond the reach of many to get treatment once diagnosed of cancer.
Prof Ngwa asked the First Lady to share her experiences on her engagements with the marginalised communities through a documentary on her works.
Prof Ngwa pledged the medical school's support towards Amai Mnangagwa's programmes, especially in the health sector.
"There are a number of key things we can do together with the First Lady, one of them being organising our conference in Zimbabwe whereby we will bring Harvard and investors in the health and economic development sector so that we partner her and assist in what she is doing," said Prof Ngwa.
"I hope our partnership will address some of the challenges she is facing in conducting her works.
"In addressing the challenges, we want to start with education, that is training the Zimbabwean doctors here on various specialties.
"Still on education, we are going to help her in her awareness campaigns through mobile phones which we are going to get from our German partners.
"You can empower women in remote areas via mobile phones whereby you will send them educative messages on cancer screening and treatment or connecting them with peer groups."
Prof Ngwa said professors from Harvard will assist in conducting research.
"She indicated that she has one mobile clinic, obviously it is not enough. We have a vast network so we will assist her to get more mobile vans," he said.
"We are doing a lot here at Harvard that we would want to extend to developing countries.
"Engaging with some of the hospitals in Zimbabwe could allow us to bring in some of the cheaper ways of treating cancer so that everyone gets access to treatment."
Recently, the First Lady clinched a deal with Merck Foundation to have the country's medical personnel trained in various specialties in India, a move aimed at transforming the country's health sector.