THE issue of health is very diverse as it covers a vast area ranging from HIV/AIDS, Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), maternal health, nutrition, gender rights, human health rights among a host of others.
The year 2018 has been a turbulent one for Zimbabwe following a series of woes which bedeviled the health sector. Since the beginning of the year, the country has experienced at least three cholera outbreaks with the first one having been reported in Chegutu, then came the Harare one and the recent Mt Darwin and South Eastern Lowveld crisis.
Some challenges include drug shortages, doctors’ strikes medical equipment shortages etc. To maneuver its way out these challenges even though some are still felt, a number of big hearted individuals and companies have come forward to assist Zimbabwe in times of need.
Below is a list of Top 10 personalities and their organisation who have been instrumental in changing lives of ordinary Zimbabweans through sacrificing their time, financial resources and commodities for the betterment of the sector.
1.) First Lady Amai Auxilia Mnangagwa
The First Lady has been championing and driving a nationwide Cervical Cancer screening campaign with the aim of increasing uptake on screening services by women to reduce the cervical cancer burden a leading cause of death of women in Zimbabwe. Since embarking on the campaign, a total of 21 000 women have been screened across the country.
2.) Itai Josh Rusike
Itai Josh Rusike is the Executive director for the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH). The organisation celebrated its 20th Anniversary recently where they recognised achievements they attained during the 20 year period. On the health side, Mr Rusike has been vocal in defending health rights and advocating for Universal Health Access (UHC), an initiative also pushed in Zimbabwe as evidenced by their work in Zimbabwe’s rural communities.
3.) Strive Masiyiwa
Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and executive chairperson of Econet. Under Econet area number of companies with interests in various economic spheres. During the recent Cholera outbreak which claimed 50 lives in Harare, Masiyiwa through his company Econet donated the biggest amount of money to the tune of US$10 Million towards the procurement of cholera kits. His company also provided financial assistance to the renovation of dilapidated infrastructure in the cholera epicenters in Harare.
4.) Loise Chingandu
Loise is the Executive Director for SAFAIDS in Zimbabwe. Her stance towards eradicating gender based violence in Zimbabwe very firm. Loise believes for Zimbabwe to attain health independence. “It has to recognise the sexual and reproductive health rights of women,” she is on record saying. Loise is also a strong health and maternal health rights defender and has won various awards internationally for her efforts.
5.) Mrs Chipo Mtasa
Mrs Chipo Mtasa is the Managing Director for TelOne, Zimbabwe’s converged telecommunications giant. Apart from leading a huge company such as TelOne, Mrs Mtasa is also passionate about health and gender empowerment alongside sexual reproductive health rights issues. Her organisation also contributed immensely towards fighting Cholera through a US$20 000 donation as well as providing clean drinking water to the affected areas. Mrs Mtasa is also conducting a one year mentoring program for 200 girls from vulnerable backgrounds with the aim of equipping them with real life skills and self-esteem to reduce the scourge of early marriages and teenage pregnancies.
6.) Esther Massundah
Esther is the Public Affairs manager for the National Blood services (NBSZ), the national blood bank. Following the scrapping of blood user fees by government early this year, demand for blood has spiked. Thanks to the massive national blood drives and awareness campaigns the blood bank embarked on which saw stocks being managed and maintained. NBSZ has managed to change the narrative and perception towards blood donations. In a country where myths about donating blood are rampart, Ester and her team have been working 24/7 to ensure blood is always available.
7.) Mrs Eunice Garanganga
Mrs Eunice Garanganga is the Palliative care director for Hospaz, an organisation spearheading the provision and promotion of palliative care and support palliative care service providers, through capacity development, advocacy and membership coordination. Through HOSPAZ’s efforts, a number of people whose hopes had been shuttered after receiving a cancer diagnosis have found hope and comfort. Eunice is on the record saying, “Palliative care should be integrated into the public health systems and programing.”
8.) Tinashe Rufurwadzo
Tinashe Grateful Rufurwadzo is a 26 year old Junior Media & Communication specialist with extensive experience in HIV advocacy and communication. Presently, he leads advocacy and communication for Zvandiri programme best known for its unique approach in engaging adolescents and young people living with HIV at the forefront of differentiated service for their peers. Throughout 2018, Tinashe has been actively involved in national, regional and international HIV advocacy and communication witnessed by his participation at the International AIDS conference held in Amsterdam, Netherlands where he managed a radio booth and hosted radio shows with high profile delegates in the field of HIV around the world. Recently, Tinashe was awarded a second prize in the USAID photo contest under health category. He also produces a radio show with a national radio station and two community radios stations. The radio show is designed to enhance the capacity of adolescents and young people to understand and adopt behaviors that empower them to prevent HIV and facilitate utilization of relevant HIV testing services. The programme has so far provided adolescents and young people living with HIV an opportunity to acquire technical and life skills in using radio as an advocacy and information sharing tool.
9.) Nduna Girls
Nduna Trust is an organisation which focuses on imparting entrepreneurial skills in young Zimbabweans. As part of their works, Nduna Trust has trained a sizable number of young girls from vulnerable communities to make their own reusable sanitary pads. Increasingly becoming a topical issue is menstrual health in Zimbabwe where most girls from rural communities cannot afford to buy pads. The reusable sanitary pads come in to bridge this gap.
10.) Fungisai Sithole
Fungisai is a trustee for Citizens Health Watch (CHW), a national health watchdog whose sole mandate is to observe, watch and correct anomalies in the health sector with the aim of improving service delivery. In 2018 alone, Citizen Health Watch has helped in changing attitudes of nurses and health workers at various health institutions in urban and rural areas. Abuse of patients especially pregnant women is very rampart in Zimbabwe’s health institutions. Through Citizen Health Watch’s efforts and undercover investigations, a number of ill behavior by nurses and health personnel has been exposed.
NB// This list was compiled by HealthTimes editorial Team and other independent health analysts in Zimbabwe: HealthTimes is Zimbabwe’s leading online health news publication. HealthTimes is also the 2017 National HIV/AIDS second prize winner for the PEPFAR Media awards.