First Lady meets with UN Country Team

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10 December 2018, Harare - The First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe Her Excellency Amai Auxilia Mnangagwa met with the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Bishow Parajuli and the UN Country Team in Zimbabwe.  The meeting took place on 10 December 2018 at the UN office grounds in Harare.

The First Lady shared her extensive initiatives in social, economic and environmental issues.  Amai Mnangagwa in her statement said, "In the year I have been the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe, I have undertaken a number of country-wide initiatives Targeted at upliftment of livelihoods of the vulnerable in our society." "My vision in a nutshell is sustainable transformation of lives in an inclusive manner leaving no one behind," said the First Lady.

The First Lady informed the UN Country Team that through her foundation- Angel of Hope- she has rolled out  various social issues which include women and children's health; vulnerable communities; environmental care, proper solid waste management and household sanitation; women and girl child empowerment; persons with disabilities as well as orphans and vulnerable children and the elderly in institutions.

As a member of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) in collaboration with the UN, the First Lady has launched “Free to Shine” campaign to end mother to child transmission of HIV. The campaign includes advocacy activities which include engagement of HIV prevention among adolescent girls and young women, including ending gender-based violence and male engagement. The male engagement component covers several areas including HIV treatment, prevention and ending child marriages.

In February this year, OAFLA agreed to spearhead a campaign to contribute to ending pediatric AIDS by 2030 and keep mothers alive and healthy – Free to Shine.  The First Lady of Zimbabwe launched the Free to Shine Campaign in August 2018.

Calling for broader partnerships and coordination of efforts for maximum impact of social, economic, and environmental initiatives, the First Lady underlined that by focusing on the marginalized her initiative complements Government’s vision of making Zimbabwe an upper-middle Income Country by 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Appreciating the First Lady’s work in advancing  social, economic and environmental initiative, Mr. Parajuli said, “health is a human right, and is critically important for the nation at this juncture, and strong collaboration is ongoing between the UN and the Ministry of Health and Child Care together with the health development partners to ensure adequate and coordinated support to the sector and mobilize new resource, including from BRICS nations.” 

Commending Zimbabwe’s commitment to reaching the 90-90-90 HIV and AIDS targets by 2020, The UN Resident Coordinator said, “over the past two decades, Zimbabwe has made good progress in HIV/AIDS and as of December 2017, 74% of people living with HIV knew their status, 87% of these were on treatment, resulting in 87% viral suppression.”

The UN team highlighted that much progress has been achieved towards the goal of eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV and Syphilis by 2022.  As of December 2017, prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV coverage reached over 95%, and 89% of children living with HIV were on treatment.  Early infant diagnosis has improved significantly from a low of 12% in 2010 to 65% in 2017.

All these achievements have resulted in improved outcomes, including a 44% decline in all new HIV infections since 2010; a 36% decline in new infections among children (0-14 years) over the same period; and, a 63% decline in AIDS related deaths over the same period.  

Noting the great initiatives by the First Lady and reiterating on the need to building on these positive outcomes by revamping strong and broader partnerships, the UN Team underlined, “there is huge scope  to scale up joint efforts to achieve the last mile of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, achieve environmental sustainability and build resilience of vulnerable communities.”

The UN collaboration with the First Lady is enshrined in the work of the Organization of  African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), which was established in 2002 to provide a platform for African First Ladies to “advocate for effective policies and strategies towards the elimination of HIV and AIDS, reduction of maternal and child mortality and the empowerment of women and children, through strategic partnerships in the spirit of solidarity.”

UNFPA, UNAIDS, WHO, UNICEF in Zimbabwe are co-implementing the regional joint UN Programme on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights, HIV and Gender Based Violence to improve the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all people in East and Southern Africa, particularly adolescent girls, young people and key populations.

 UNAIDS is leading the work on high level advocacy, primarily with the office of the First Lady but also with Parliamentarians, to ensure high level leadership for an enabling legal, policy and resource environment that empowers adolescent girls, young people and key populations to exercise their sexual reproductive health rights and access quality integrated HIV, sexual and gender-based violence  services.

The First Lady is active in health and has been championing also cervical cancer screening, among the other things outlined above. The First Lady meeting with the UN Country Team coincided with the end of the 16 days activism against gender-based violence (25 Nov to 10 Dec 2018) in which the First Lady and the UN spearheaded a series of advocacy campaign and the commemoration of the world Human Rights Day which marked 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 2018.