IT’S that time of the year once again where we appreciate and honour those who sacrificed their time, resources and life to the good cause of advancing quality health services in various communities around the country.
By Michael Gwarisa
Zimbabwe’s health sector is currently in the doldrums and only a miracle of double proportion can resurrect this ailing industry. The year 2019 was characterised by massive job actions by health personnel, lack of sundries and hospital equipment to mention just a few challenges. However, despite these challenges, some individuals remained resolute and dedicated to advancing health services in their respective fields of expertise.
This list does not just focus on players in the medical field but also those doing impressive advocacy work in communities with the aim of raising awareness pertaining to various issues which include but not limited to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), nutrition, HIV and AIDS, medicine, health human resources amongst others.
1.) Dr Shingirai Meki
Dr Shingirai Meki leading a surgical team at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals on July 31, 2019 removed the world’s largest kidney tumor. A Zimbabwean woman Mrs Milka Gwatiringa had a kidney mass weighing 12, 6 KGs surgically removed at the hospital after having it for about 11 years. The tumor was 33cm long with a width of about 30 cm. He alongside his team put Zimbabwe on the world map offsetting a Japanese operation done in 2009.
Ekenia is a gender and women’s rights activists and director for a girls rights organisation Shamwari Yemwanasika. Not only is she highly educated but she is hardworking and committed to ensuring that girls and young women get access to quality Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) services. Through her organisation, she has penetrated certain hard to reach communities which include Apostolic sects in Manicaland, traditional leaders amongst a host of others. Her work in raising awareness in these hard to reach communities has also earned various accolades in business and humanitarian fields.
3.) Gogo Esther Gwena
Most of you might have heard of this marvellous woman who delivered hundreds of babies at her home in Mbare. Even though her methods are archaic and unconvetional, Gogo Gwena sacrificed her time and managed to fill in the gap that was left by striking doctors and council doctors and for that, we need to salute and respect her for saving lives during a time of need. We hope government finds a way of working closely with traditional midwives in formal health institutions.
4.) Lucy Marowa
Lucy is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the National Blood Service of Zimbabwe (NBSZ). Despite the year 2019 being the toughest in the health sector, Lucy and her team through various coordinated campaigns ensured that the Blood Bank was adequately stocked throughout the year. The organisation embarked on rigorous blood drives in and out of school just to make sure the nation does not run out of the precious liquid of blood. Lucy is upbeat that they will meet and surpass their 2019 blood collection target of 108, 405 unit.
5.) Joshua Tapambagwa
Joshua is the Stanbic Zimbabwe Chief Executive, one of leading financial institutions globally. Besides being just a financial institution, Stanbic Zimbabwe has also left an indelible mark in the lives of people with albinism. In 2019, Stanbic donating body creams and lotions to people with albinism as well as investments towards cancer management in Zimbabwe’s health institutions.
6.) Kennedy Mubaiwa
Kennedy is the Chief Executive Officer for Higherlife Foundation, an organisation founded by business mogul Strive Masiiwa and his wife Tsitsi. The organisation has impacted positively on Zimbabwe’s health sector. Since beginning of the year and even before, Higherlife Foundation has been instrumental in addressing some of the health challenges facing Zimbabwe. Since 2012, Highlife has been supporting interventions to bring down prevalence of Non Communicable Diseases in Zimbabwe. The organisation has also been active in the Cyclone Idai areas where they provided assistance to those who were affected. Just recently, Highlife extended an olive branch to incapacitated health workers just to ensure the sector regains its sanity.
7.) Dr Peter Magombeyi
Dr Magombeyi rose to fame as the youthful Secretary General for the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) who was allegedly “Abducted” for saying enough is enough to poor living and working conditions for health workers. In as much as many might not agree with the manner in which he and a team of other doctors led a job action against poor working and living standards, Dr Magombeyi’s role in pushing for capacitation of health workers will always be remembered in Zimbabwe’s medical history. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the health workforce is central in translating the vision of universal health coverage into reality. In other words, an unmotivated health workforce is a recipe for disastrous health outcomes. In May 2014, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution mandating the development of a global strategy on human resources for health by May 2016.
8.) Munyaradzi Chakuinga
Munyaradzi is the Acting Director the Midlands Aids Caring organisation (MACO). The organisation is based in Zvishavane and also covers Mberengwa district. Even though there is little donor activity in terms of advancing HIV and AIDS interventions in Mberengwa, Chakuinga has managed to raise HIV and AIDS awareness through implementing various innovations. Among them include having what his organisation terms Join In Circuit on Love and Sexuality for young people, SRHR cadres, as well as treatment literacy cadres.
9.) Tendai Westerhof
Tendai is the national coordinator for the Pan African Positive Women Coalition Zimbabwe (PAPWC-Zim). In 2019, Tendai went on a countrywide campaign recruiting more HIV positive women into PAPWC even in hard to reach areas such as Gokwe, Binga and others with the aim of raising awareness and promoting good health seeking behaviour among women living with HIV. Tendai acknowledges that health literacy is the key to ending stigma and misinfoamation about HIV and her organisation is dedicated to ensruing communities are educated and equipped to deal the epidemic.
10.) Nyasha Sithole Demba
Nyasha is a young advocate for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). Having been an Africaid Zvandiri mentor herlself, Nyasha is passionate and envisions a world free of stigam and discrimination against people living with HIV. Trhoughout the year 2019, Nyasha has been vocal is pushing for young people’s inclusion in decions making positions to ensure responses targeted at young people address the real challenges facing this group. Nyasha also made a splendid presentation at the International Conference on Population Development (ICPD) on how the epidemic is affecting young gilrs and women the most and called on governments to scale up intervetions to protect women and girls against the rising new infections.
NB: This list was compiled by HealthTimes Editorial team and a team of independent health analysts. This list is in no particular order.