Federal Councillor Cassis and his delegation were given an enthusiastic welcome by the team. “I never thought I’d ever experience something like this”, said nurse Sister Melody, who has worked at Newlands Clinic for 15 years now. “For a Swiss Federal Councillor to visit our clinic is a huge honour. It has given us even more motivation and passion to continue our work!”
During the visit, Ruedi and Sabine Lüthy showed the guests around the different areas of the clinic and training centre, and Federal Councillor Cassis, who is himself a doctor, had the opportunity to speak with both staff and patients. He appeared impressed by what he had seen: “Professor Ruedi Lüthy and his team are doing an outstanding job, which is now reaching out into Zimbabwe's neighbouring countries. Combating HIV and AIDS is one of the key objectives of Swiss development cooperation work in southern Africa, and Newlands Clinic makes an important and lasting contribution to those efforts by passing on its knowledge to local specialists.”
The fight against HIV/AIDS must continue
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has supported our work financially ever since our foundation. “For 15 years now we have been working passionately on behalf of our patients, and passing on our expertise to local specialists,” Ruedi Lüthy remarked. “We could never have achieved so much without the SDC's support. We hope to be able to expand the services we offer still further. The HIV/AIDS epidemic in southern Africa is far from over, and there is an urgent need for this life-saving knowledge.”
With the support of the SDC, in the autumn of 2018 Newlands Clinic successfully conducted an international pilot course for specialists from countries of the South African Development Community (SADC). Some 38 % of people with HIV/AIDS live in these countries. In a two-week course, 20 nurses from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Zambia were taught theoretical knowledge and received practical insights into HIV management at Newlands Clinic. The SDC is evaluating the possibility of further international courses. To date, Newlands Clinic has trained around 3,400 specialists from all over Zimbabwe.
Dependent on help for life
“The team will never forget today. Our warmest thanks to Federal Councillor Cassis for his visit,” said Sabine Lüthy. “Encouraged by the effect that he has had, we now look ahead to our 16th year. There is still much to do: our 6,500 patients, who come from the poorest backgrounds, are dependent on help for life, and interest in our courses is growing from year to year. With the enormous support of the SDC and all our donors, we will put all of our energy and resolve into continuing our work in the future.”
Patient Rumbidzai, 54, said after speaking to the Federal Councillor: “without Newlands Clinic I would have died. They’ve given me a second chance at life. I’m happy and feel very honoured that the Swiss foreign minister was interested in my story.