Chitwan Malhotra Meets the First Lady of Zimbabwe

Ms Chitwan Malhotra, the Executive Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) Health Partnership in Geneva and also Honorary Chairwoman IHD Marketplace Inc. (Innovative Healthcare Delivery) met with the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Ambassador of Health, who is also the Patron of the Angel of Hope Foundation, Her Excellence Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa at the State House in Harare on the 16th of December 2020, to discuss a wide-range of issues relating to the establishment of state-of-the-art healthcare facilities and the availability of affordable medicines as well as pharmaceutical and surgical stuff in the country.

In a lengthy meeting, the two women, who share common passionate interests on quality health delivery to all communities, exchanged ideas on a number of issues regarding potential investments and public private partnership (PPP) in the health sector. In their spheres of operation, both women have been on the forefront of promoting SDG number 3, which aspires “to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all stages” including Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) by 2030.

In her capacity as the Executive Director of UNSDG Health Partnership in Geneva, Ms Malhotra has been responsible for initiatives supporting national and regional civil society to drive improvements in NCD prevention and control, promote sports as a means to combat growing lifestyle diseases among youth and environmental health. On the other hands, Her Excellence, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, through the Angel of Hope Foundation, has been championing the promotion and provision of healthcare to disadvantaged groups of people, particularly children, women and the elderly in rural areas of the country.

In her introductory remarks, Ms Maholtra applauded the wonderful work that the First Lady is doing in promoting healthcare across the country. “Under your able leadership and with the support of His Excellence, we have seen you making significant strides towards uplifting the lives and promoting the healthcare of many ordinary Zimbabweans. Your work has made a difference and contributed much towards the promotion of SGDs and many across the regional and continent are taking lessons” Maholtra said in great admiration. She further indicated that due to the First Lady’s work, her organisation, IHD Marketplace, was ready to partner with the Angel of Hope Foundation to make sure that it scales up its work across the country.

Among many other projects, which include to establish a Victoria Falls Hospital Project that is aimed at fostering and promoting medical tourism in the Zimbabwe, Ms Maholtra said that IHD Marketplace Inc. envisages to supply Pharmaceutical and Surgical materials to Zimbabwe from India. “These initiatives are very important in the sense that they ensure affordable-to-all and high quality public health facilities to the majority of Zimbabwean citizens” This is in line with her work as the Executive Director of UNSDG Health Partnership, where she oversees the drug access, vaccines and pharmaceuticals supplies at affordable prices in low and lower middle-income countries like Zimbabwe. This is not the first time Ms Malhotra has shown her unconditional commitment towards the improvement of healthcare in Zimbabwe.

In the past, Ms Malhotra, on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Childcare led successful price negotiations with global pharmaceutical companies to lower the price of medicines and vaccinations to Zimbabwe. More so, she is involved in the conceptualizing and rollout of Zimbabwe Presidential Fund, which was launched in New York in September 2019 during the 74th UN General Assembly. The fund is also dedicated to improve access to essentials medicines for the most vulnerable population and by strengthening primary care, enable the communities to better manage the growing burden of NCDs. In return, the First Lady expressed her gratitude to IHD Marketplace Inc. for bringing these essential healthcare initiatives to Zimbabwe. She highlighted that the promotion of national healthcare has been at the centre of the President and government’s top priorities. “As a country we have encountered challenges in our health sector. Zimbabwe is under sanctions and this has had negative impact on the country’s health sector. Also, currently we do not manufacture medicines”, the First Lady said. These health challenges have been exacerbated by the emergence of Covid-19, which has affected Zimbabwe since March 2020. “As such, the IHD Marketplace Inc. has come at the right time, where various efforts are being put in place to improve the wellbeing of citizens”, she added.

The First Lady further said that Zimbabwe is home to several traditional herbs and medicinal plants, which, IHD Marketplace Inc. and the Angel of Hope Foundation can collaborate on and manufacture various pharmaceutical drugs. “Through my work as the Patron of the Angel of Hope Foundation, I have to come to realise that women in Zimbabwe have expertise in different areas and are willing to learn new things that give them a living such as adding value and processing of traditional herbs into drugs”, the First Lady said. There is indeed a huge potential for investment in traditional herbs and the coming in of IHD will go a long way in promoting the health system of the country.

The idea of promoting medical tourism in the Zimbabwe, with the country becoming a SADC region Hub endowed with state-of-the-art multispecialty medical facilities, also caught the First Lady’s interest. She expressed her eagerness in seeing Victoria Falls becoming a medical tourist destination apart from just focusing on selling the majestic waterfalls, as it is now a City. President Emmerson Mnangagwa proclaimed Victoria Falls a city through Statutory Instrument 285 of 2020. Thus, the coming in of IHD Marketplace Inc. to promote medical tourism in Victoria Falls is well-timed and desirable.

Ms Chitwan and Amai Mnagagwa ended by pledging to work hand-in-glove towards seeing improved provision of adequate and quality healthcare to the majority of Zimbabwe.

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