Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
FIRST Lady Dr Auxilia Mnangagwa’s Angel of Hope Foundation completed its medical outreach programme in Matabeleland North’s Binga and Hwange districts where more health workers were trained on how to save new babies using the Help Babies Breathe (HBB) procedure.
Hundreds of people also received free medical care and medication during the outreach.
The training of health workers in remote areas is part of Dr Mnangagwa’s vision of ensuring that everyone has access to quality health care.
The First Lady partnered with American doctors under the banner, ZimbabWe Care, to provide free medical treatment to villagers in Chisizya and Chiliba in Binga before wrapping up the programme at St Mary’s Hospital in Lukosi, Hwange.
Nearly 1 000 people received free medical care following a collaboration between First Lady’s Angel of Hope Foundation and ZimbabWE Care, founded by American health administrator Mr Eric Rose.
Vulnerable members of the public also received free medication for various ailments.
Health workers at St Mary’s Hospital in Hwange and at Chisizya and Chiliba in Binga were trained on the Help Babies Breathe procedure.
Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) is the first module in the Helping Babies Survive (HBS) suite of evidence-based educational programmes, which teaches the skills of caring for healthy babies and assisting babies that do not breathe on their own after birth.
Health workers were equipped with skills to save new born babies who are birthed with breathing challenges as part of the national thrust of leaving no one behind.
In Hwange, the district hospital was targeted because of its strategic position as far as medical access is concerned.
Nurses stationed at the hospital were taught how to implement the Help Babies Breath procedure in the hope that they will pass on the knowledge to other health workers in line with Dr Mnangagwa’s expectations.
The HBB programme saved a newly born in Chisizya, Binga when a mother delivered a baby with breathing complications.
Amai Mnangagwa’s vision is that when more rural health workers are trained, they will impart the knowledge to their peers and more babies will be saved at birth.
Angel of Hope Foundation board member Mrs Rachel Nield-Geranios said it has been an amazing collaborative experience for local and American health workers to be transferring skills to communities.
She said this exactly speaks to Amai Mnangagwa’s vision of touching the less privileged through transfer of knowledge.
“It is refreshing for those who had the training and sharing the training to those who have never had it.
I think the greatest tool that we have here is that when we all lift where we stand instead of looking for elsewhere to go, we can make the world a better place.
It’s been so fun being with Angel of Hope and ZimbabWe Care teams trying to make a little bit more to make Zimbabwe move forward,” she said.
“The experience has been very amazing, to have collaborative efforts between local medical professionals, the visiting medical professionals and working with Angel of Hope Foundation.
That is amazing to see everyone pulling together.”
Mrs Nield-Geranios said working with the First Lady has enabled her to reach communities that were previously ignored.
“It’s a great honour for me to serve my country in a very little way and be able to do it with people who are so passionate under the guidance of Amai.
It’s been a privilege to see everyone coming together to make the world a better place,” Mrs Nield-Geranios.
“We have been visiting communities and teaching and extending the Helping Babies Breath to rural health care centres.
It is very popular and used in our country but in some of the remote places, it’s been difficult to access.”
The HBB training kit was donated to St Mary’s Hospital and will be used by the medical staff for further training.
One of the American medical officers, Dr Jared Morton said Amai Mnangagwa’s programme has enabled him to experience Zimbabwean hospitality.
He described Zimbabweans as peace loving citizens.
“I’m always amazed with how happy people are, people are so genuinely happy in this country.
It is not like that in the US.
I love to be with people.
It rejuvenates me,” said Dr Morton.
He commended the dedication to saving lives by local health workers.
Dr Morton said while the local health workers might not have all the requisite medical equipment to deliver on their work, their commitment to service is second to none,
“We were amazed at the ingenuity and the ability of people in remote clinics to provide such excellent care.
They are able to do so much with so little and we have the blessing to come and help them along that path of taking care of people and get them a little bit healthier.
I’m always humbled working alongside the medical providers.
I might have years of medical education but I have never seen this kind of care,” said Dr Morton.
“They work so hard they deal with so much and I’m astounded to see what they are both on the inside and outside.
They deal with big wounds and we can only come and try to put a little bandage.”
ZimbabWe Care dental surgeon Dr Kudakwashe Time, said the First Lady’s programme brought a lot of smiles to Binga and Hwange communities.
“This came at a very opportune time, a time which is very much needed and I can say the help that was given to these people is never enough.
When we visit these communities, you can realise the need, so this outreach programme has been very important to the people,” said Dr Time.
“We have been working for an extended period with our foreign colleagues targeting rural areas where access to health care is not always readily available.
We were able to provide dental care and general medical service.”
A Lukosi village health worker, Ms Brenda Ndlovu commended Amai Mnangagwa for extending the medical outreach programme to their district.
“We received menstrual cups which will come handy for some of us.
It is expensive to buy sanitary pads but with these menstrual cups, we can use them for up to seven years.
We have been educated on how to use them.
These are reliable, clean and safe to use so we are grateful for these gifts.
So, we want to thank the First Lady for bringing this team to us.
It will assist a lot of us,” said Ms Ndlovu.
Some lucky expecting mothers who had visited the hospital on a routine medical check programme, were given preparation kits.
They were also given toys and clothes for minor children.
Those who delivered recently also received some donations.
Mrs Mercy Mudimba said the preparation kit came at the right time as it will complement the clothes that she already has.
“I have a one-month-old baby and my child did not have enough clothing and I was concerned since we are in winter.
So, these clothes will come handy.
I wasn’t expecting these clothes so we are thankful to the First Lady and her American partners for remembering us and providing us with these gifts,” said Mudimba.