“The visit of the Swiss foreign minister is a vote of confidence”

The Newlands Clinic team will not forget 9 January 2019 any time soon, as it was the day that Swiss Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis toured our clinic as part of his visit to southern Africa. The foreign minister appeared impressed and emphasised the important contribution that Newlands Clinic is making to the fight against HIV/AIDS. After the visit he went on to meet with Zimbabwean Minister of Health and Child Care Obadiah Moyo.

Minister of Health and Child Care Obadiah Moyo and Swiss foreign minister Cassis.

Federal Councillor Cassis and his delegation were given an enthusiastic welcome by the team. “It's a great day for our clinic,” said Dr. Cleophas Chimbetete, Director of Training and Research. “The visit by Swiss Foreign Minister Cassis is a huge honour. As a representative of the highest level of government, it is a great vote of confidence in us and the quality of our work.”

During the visit, founder Ruedi Lüthy showed the guests around the different areas of the clinic and training centre, and Foreign Minister Cassis, who is himself a doctor, had the opportunity to speak with both staff and patients. He appeared impressed by what he had seen: “The team at Newlands Clinic is 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.”

Patient Rumbidzai, 54, said after speaking to the Swiss foreign minister: “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.

Click here for the gallery on the visit of Federal Councillor Cassis

Long-standing support from Switzerland

Newlands Clinic, which is run by the Swiss Ruedi Lüthy Foundation, has received financial support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) ever since its foundation. “For 15 years now, we have been working passionately on behalf of our patients and passing on our expertise to specialists from throughout Zimbabwe,” 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, because 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.

Meeting with Minister of Health and Child Care

After touring the clinic, Foreign Minister Cassis had a personal meeting with Zimbabwean Minister of Health and Child Care Obadiah Moyo. He then immediately travelled on to a two-day state visit to South Africa.

Click here for the gallery on the visit of Federal Councillor Cassis