President hails solid Zim, Belarus bilateral cooperation

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has hailed as comprehensive and solid, the continued excellent bilateral relations between Zimbabwe and Belarus, thanking his counterpart President Aleksandr Lukashenko for his efforts to make Zimbabwe a provider of first class health services.

The President was speaking at State House yesterday after witnessing Health and Child Care Ambassador First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa’s Angel of Hope Foundation taking delivery of an ultra-modern, top-notch mobile hospital from President Lukashenko in a development expected to enhance her capacity to serve disadvantaged communities in all corners of the country, including hard-to-reach areas.

This will place the country among nations capable of dispensing advanced medical care to people. The gesture also indicates that the First Lady’s philanthropic work has captured the imagination of the world.

It is also a culmination of the meeting the First Lady had with President Lukanshenko on the sidelines of engagements she had with Belarusian institutions that had invited her to that country in recognition of her philanthropic work and efforts to transform the lives of vulnerable members of the community.

So touching was the handover ceremony, during which President Mnangagwa personally thanked his Belarusian counterpart saying the gift was a testament to the solid and comprehensive relations between the two nations.

He added that it was through the First Lady’s work that President Lukashenko had availed the First World medical equipment to Zimbabwe.

President Mnangagwa paid tribute to his Belarusian counterpart, saying the gift had leapfrogged Zimbabwe to be among the world’s best providers of healthcare to the people.

“This donation to Angel of Hope Foundation, a donation to the First Lady of Zimbabwe Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa is a donation to Zimbabwe through the Angel of Hope. Today we are witnessing an event where in terms of access to state-of-the-art medical care leapfrogs Zimbabwe to the First World,” he said.

In jest, President Mnangagwa said: “As we toured this mobile hospital, fortunately my Minister of Health (Dr Douglas Mombeshora) is also a medical doctor, so I was asking him whether he understands the equipment in there. Fortunately, he said yes.

“I am not so sure if he wanted to please me or if it’s true but nonetheless what is critically important is that today our dear, solid and comprehensive friendship between Harare and Minsk or between the President of Zimbabwe and the President of Belarus and between Angel of Hope is cemented,” he said.

“We now have a mobile hospital that has state-of-the art medical equipment in our country. However, I am complaining a bit, the speech by the professor and the speech by the First Lady were biased towards women.

“They all forgot that there are men in the country. Let me assure you men who are seated here that we shall find a way of persuading the First Lady to realise that the country has men also. We are there also,” the President said jokingly.

He added: “May you convey to my dear brother President Lukashenko that this medical hospital donated to Angel of Hope Foundation has leapfrogged our medical services to the First World. I have no doubt that our First Lady will avail this facility to all our 10 provinces so that our people may have access to the state-of-the-art medical care now existent in the world.

“Congratulations madam. It is through you and your work that has enabled my dear brother President Lukashenko to avail this First World medical equipment to Zimbabwe.

“I have no doubt that we shall rank Zimbabwe among those in our region or on the continent who have access to the-state-of-the-art medical facility and care we are all now going to have and it’s mobile, which means it is able to go to the patient rather than the patient come to it,” the President said.

President Lukashenko’s gift, the President said, spoke volumes about the cordial relations between the two countries.

“Again, I say congratulations. Having said that, this is demonstrative of comprehensive and extremely warm relations between the two countries. May you Professor, go and assure my dear brother President Lukashenko that I wholeheartedly and warmly on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe, the Republic of Zimbabwe and indeed of course, I am aware that the First Lady might have already made her appreciation in terms of a letter to His Excellency President Lukashenko. I also wish to add my own voice to this gesture of donation that makes our people accessible to the best medical care available on earth. Again I say to the First Lady, congratulations. Through your Angel of Hope Foundation we have accessed this state-of-the-art medical equipment,” the President said.

The Belarusian President sent a special message to the First Lady which was delivered by Professor Irina Abelskaia, medical director of the State Institution of Belarus.

“Your Excellency First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, Your Excellency, it is a pleasure to address you to confirm that all the agreements reached in my meetings with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and during your visit to Belarus in April 2023 are being implemented and your work aimed at improving the quality of basic medical care and health standards of unprotected social groups as well as protecting the rights of women and children was defined as one of the strongest areas of our cooperation.

“The Belarusian side is pleased to hand over the mobile screening unit to the Angel of Hope Foundation. I am convinced that this will be the first significant step that will bring quality care closer to women in different parts of your country.

“Let me assure you that the Belarusian side will continue to extend its comprehensive support to your activities for the benefit of improving the social security and wellbeing of the people of Zimbabwe. I would like to take this opportunity Your Excellency to wish you and your family good health and success,” President Lukashenko wrote.

In her remarks, Amai Mnangagwa said she felt priviledged to host Prof Abelskiaia and her delegation and thanked the President of Belarus for the kind gesture.

“It has been my greatest pleasure to host you and I hope that your stay has been comfortable and enjoyable so far. I am delighted that you had an opportunity to visit the magnificent Victoria Falls. Your stay could not have been complete without visiting one of the seven wonders of the world. We hope that you will be our tourism ambassador in the Republic of Belarus,” she said.

The mother of the nation said she was in Belarus in April last year at the invitation of several institutions which sought to honour the outstanding humanitarian work of the Angel of Hope Foundation and to explore possible areas of cooperation.

“During my visit, I had an opportunity to meet with his Excellency President Lukashenko, various ministers and healthcare institutions. We are gathered here today to witness one of the important deliverables of the engagements we had during that visit.

“During my visit I was honoured with the conferment of an honorary Doctorate award from Belarusian State University, a gratitude letter and award pin for my contribution to educational activities, charity, health and environmental protection.

“The visit unlocked opportunities for our local doctors and medical personnel who went for and are still receiving training in Belarus through exchange programmes in various fields like oncology, screening for cancers of the colon, prostate, cervix, lungs and other in-patient and out-patient health programmes,” she said.

The visit, Dr Mnangagwa noted, also spawned vast opportunities for the country’s female farmers, female journalists and the manufacturing sector.

As the health and childcare ambassador of Zimbabwe and the patron of Angel of Hope Foundation, in collaboration with Belarusian institutions, the First Lady said they facilitated the training of a group of healthcare professionals from Zimbabwe in the use of advanced mammography equipment, ultrasound and radioactive machinery.

“The transfer of this state-of-the-art equipment from Belarus is set to improve the detection of breast cancer cases in the country. Mammography is the best way of detecting all types of breast cancer as it increases the detection of small abnormal tissue growths in the breast.

“This means that cancer will be detected at an early stage and reduce the risk of mortality due to breast cancer. The mobile hospital also consists of an ultrasound scan, gynaecological machinery and a radiation machine,” she said.

The First Lady said the mobile hospital will go a long way in benefiting the nation at large as is reflected by one of the pinnacles of Angel of Hope Foundation which is the accessibility of healthcare to all.

“Indeed this significant donation has come at a time when these services are needed most. We are delighted that through the excellent cooperation and common vision to ensure a healthy population, a group of Zimbabwean radiologists, radiographers and technicians received training from experts from Belarus on the use of this machinery as well as its maintenance. These specialists have been exposed to hands-on training on the use of equipment in the mobile hospital.

“Prof Irina, through our collaboration with Belarus, we are now looking at improving cancer screening, especially breast cancer through the mobile mammography unit.

“This will benefit a lot of our people who cannot afford to have mammography done as this equipment is very critical in our fight against cancer,” she said.

As the First Lady and health and childcare ambassador, Dr Mnangagwa said she has been instrumental in the improvement of health facilities in marginalised areas through the construction of waiting mothers shelters, sourcing funding and equipment for an ultra modern hospital and construction of district hospitals in Dete and Binga.

“I also facilitated a camp for eye surgeries at Parirenyatwa Hospital here in Harare where more than 500 patients were successfully operated on. These initiatives brought a lot of positive change to the health sector across all age groups.

“The Angel of Hope Foundation is also constructing a mother and child hospital in Harare. The hospital will be catering for pre-natal medical care for mothers and children.

“Prof Irina, through the Angel of Hope Foundation we have tried our best to address the needs of the vulnerable in our society, paying particular attention to the plight of women this mobile hospital will go a long way in our health sector as it will provide services for women’s health, mamology and surgical mamology as well as gynaecology.

“These are services that would go a long way in alleviating the plight of the vulnerable girls and women in Zimbabwe.

“It is my profound desire to ensure that our citizens are accorded affordable quality health care. May I once again ,express my utmost gratitude to you and the people of Belarus for the concrete assistance to ensure the flourishing of our healthcare system,” she said.

Health and Child Care Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora said based on successful implementation and positive results of the First Lady’s outreach programme of cervical cancer screening countrywide where more than 200 000 women were screened, his ministry continued to rally behind her.

“The Ministry of Health and Child Care, Your Excellency, will continue to demonstrate its commitment in rallying behind your hard work where the world has seen you working tirelessly in mobilising resources and champion hands-on in advocating women and men of all ages to visit health facilities to get health checks in our provinces. We commend you for this Amai.

“Your Excellency, my ministry is grateful for the support by your partners all over the world which we have seen strengthening the health sector,” he said.

Dr Mombeshora said notable gains had been realised in the health sector as evidenced by improvements in the number of impact indicators especially in maternal and child health where the country’s maternal mortality was now at 458 per 100 000 live births or less and there were moves to reduce these to 70 per 100 000 live births by 2030.

The minister acknowledged that most of the gains in the health sector had been made possible by the support from the First Lady and he urged development partners, private sector, civic organisations, individuals and all to keep supporting the dream of the mother of the nation.

“Your Excellency , as the ministry of Health and Child Care, we are appreciative of this generous gesture we witnessed today and as a nation, will benefit immensely from the Belarusian mobile hospital,” he said.

On Sunday, the First Lady rolled out a red carpet welcome and dinner for the Belarusian delegation at State house led by Prof Abelskaia who expressed her country’s commitment to working with Zimbabwe across many sectors.

“Dear sister, Your Excellency Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, firstly I want to appreciate that you welcomed us on this Zimbabwean land. I am so happy to be here. A year ago, our President Alexander Lukashenko was here and the two Presidents agreed on some directions of cooperation. Everything which is connected to maternity, child care and everything which is connected to society is of highest importance. It is very important to fight cancer like you are doing. Women resolve issues not only with their heart, but also with their mind. I am happy when her excellency the First Lady visited Berus and there we discussed lots of projects,” she said before giving details of the donation.

During the dinner, the First Lady said she felt honoured to host the Belarusian delegation.

“It is with great pleasure and honour that I stand before you this evening to extend a warm welcome to our esteemed guests on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe.

“The presence of professor Irina and her delegation here in Zimbabwe is a testament to the enduring spirit of cooperation and solidarity that binds our countries together.

“Prof Irina, i have always believed that as women we have a significant role to play in contributing to the development of our nations. Every woman from grassroot level to the executive and leadership position is a leader albeit on the different spheres of society we find ourselves.

“Women are resilient, hard working, driven and above all nurturing. These are not stereotypes but rather admirable traits which we should all embrace as women. We, prof Irina, as women, are a soft power.

“Our strength is in mediation, dialogue and discourse in the midst on conflict and our nurturing spirit gravitates towards humanitarianism through assisting the marginalized, vulnerable and downtrodden of our societies. His excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Dr ED Mnangagwa has advocated and implemented the inclusion of women in decision-making positions by introducing the women’s quota in parliament which has seen more women contest for leadership positions and participating in the legislative process,” she said.

Vice President Kembo Mohadi sang praises of the First Lady and hailed her tireless efforts to ease the plight of vulnerable members of society.

“First lady, I take to podium to thank you for the invitation and for the sterling job you are doing within the country. We have seen you working hard assisting the underprivileged. We have seen you Amai interact with women of this country giving them skills, certificating them, getting them to establish their enterprises. We have also seen you interacting with the wives of our traditional leaders and you have also gone as far as teaching them how to cook through your programme which is nationwide. This programme has also gone regional. Your excellency, Zimbabwe is not only priviledged but is blessed to have you as the First Lady,” he said.

Vice President Mohadi said since his birth, he had never witnessed the sort of work as the one that was being carried out by the First Lady.

“I have been around for quite a while, I am not very young and what you are doing, I have never seen it being done elsewhere.

“It is the first of its kind and we say thank you our First Lady. I thought when you became the First Lady in the year 2017, I thought you would just sit there and be the First Lady of Zimbabwe but instead, you decided to work even harder.

“None of our First Ladies we had here did this before. State House was the preserve of a few. But all this goes to show how motherly you are. You are a mother of the nation and you cherish your people.

“You will go down the annals of history as the First Lady who has transformed Zimbabwe. It will be very difficult for the First Ladies that will come after you to fit into your shoes,” he said.

President Mnangagwa receives a gift sent by his Belarusian counterpart President Aleksandr Lukashenko which was delivered by Professor Irina Abelskaia at State House yesterday

After yesterday’s programme, the First Lady took the Belarusian delegation and all the invited guests on a tour of the Mother and Child Hospital which she is constructing through her Angel of Hope Foundation.


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