First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa has urged people, especially the elderly, to undergo regular medical check-ups to allow early diagnosis of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and treatment of these ailments to curb avoidable deaths.
Amai Mnangagwa, who is the country's health ambassador, made the remarks during an interactive session with members of Mtshina community, 50km from Tsholotsho, on a wide range of issues including NCDs, Covid-19, vaccination, domestic violence and juvenile delinquency.
The visit to the area underlined the zeal in the mother of the nation to reach every part of the country, including those with inaccessible roads to share information on health issues and to transform lives.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), NCDs kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71 percent of all deaths globally.
The First Lady asked the gathering that included the elderly, widows and widowers among other vulnerable groups, to name some of the NCDs that have always been there before the Covid-19 pandemic.
In response they mentioned cancer, diabetes, hypertension, asthma and chronic respiratory disease among others.
"Ana mbuya nana sekuru (Our senior citizens), I want to know whether you are visiting clinics for diagnosis and treatment of these ailments because health experts say people must be treated for their underlying conditions so that when they contract Covid-19, it won't be too severe.
"Some of these diseases are silent killers hence it is important to get checked early, seek treatment and take your medications religiously," she said.
She said NCDs were exerting a burden on people affected by Covid-19 hence the need to keep them on treatment for the ailments to ensure their health and well-being.
Turning to Covid-19, the First Lady asked whether they had heard about Covid-19 and its symptoms, Gogo Irene Maphosa said it had flu like symptoms.
The First Lady concurred with her and urged the elderly to visit the clinics whenever they felt the symptoms and self isolate.
Sekuru Noah Tshuma added that vaccination was the surest way to keep the pandemic at bay.
"That is true, vaccination reduces the effects of the pandemic. Our Government is doing everything in its might to make everyone survive. Let's all embrace vaccination, because it is us who can free ourselves from this pandemic through vaccination so that normalcy returns.
"Vaccination is being done globally, but this does not remove the need to follow Covid-19 protocols religiously," the First Lady said.
She warned members of the community against being fooled by people who were peddling falsehoods against vaccination.
"Our leaders were vaccinated. Vice President Chiwenga, who is the Minister of Health and Child Care was the first one to get his jab. The President and myself were vaccinated, but we are still alive and this shows that information being posted on social media is false. If the pandemic affects you without being vaccinated you might perish," she said.
On the importance of masking up, she highlighted that the current month of August was windy and if someone coughs nearby the chances of contracting the disease are high.
She spoke candidly against gathering in large numbers at funerals and the handling of bodies in the absence of health officials, including body viewing.
The mother of the nation expressed concern over rising cases of mischief among children.
"What should we do about the mischief in children? Some of these children are eloping at a tender age and their marriages are crumbling," she said with pain written all over her face.
An elderly San woman, who was part of the discussion said during her time they had arranged marriages which made the unions withstand the test of time.
"In our San culture we had arranged marriages. You would simply be told that you were to join such and such a family where so and so was your husband."
"Today these children are against that practice and that is why their marriages are falling apart."
In response, the First Lady said arranged marriages were no longer feasible.
"Nowadays it is no longer feasible that a daughter be given a husband. Some would even send girls to appease avenging spirits, but this is not proper. Some families would send a child to an elderly man. As elders let us strive to teach these children the proper way so that after school they can choose spouses of their own choice. Children need to be taught good manners so that they can live in peace with her husband and in-laws," she said.
Gogo Sithanisiwe Mpofu concurred with the First Lady's observation that it was improper to find a spouse for a child and pointed out that an arranged marriage was not a guarantee that the union would last.
She said years back she was personally given a husband, but things did not work out and still the marriage crumbled.
The First Lady invited three elderly women and three elderly men to outline the qualities of a son-in-law and daughter-in-law they wanted in their families.
She urged youths to listen attentively so that they could learn what was expected of them when they came of age.
On gender-based violence (GBV), the First Lady encouraged people to make use of her 575 toll-free number to get advice.
The mother of the nation donated food hampers, blankets and toiletries to the vulnerable groups.
Chief Gampu, Mr Ashel Sithole, expressed gratitude to the First Lady for her love and the life teachings she delivered.
"We are overjoyed by your visit here Amai and the teachings that will help mould our children into responsible adults.
"Since independence in 1980, no First Lady ever came here to spend time with us to hear our concerns and address some of the challenges we have as you have done. We pray that God blesses and protects you always," he said.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo thanked the First Lady for visiting his area adding that the donations would bring relief to the beneficiaries.
The educative session was held in line with Covid-19 protocols of masking up, sanitising and maintaining social distance.