The Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) says first ladies have a duty to champion development and address social issues in their countries.

This comes as the organisation has broadened its mandate to include development and empowerment.

The African first ladies have proved to be important stakeholders in advocacy for economic and social issues in societies andĀ OAFLAD President of the Technical Advisory Committee, Mr Hien Luc said they have the capacity to transform communities and nations.

“African first ladies play an important role in advocacy. Initially, our organisation targeted issues of HIV and AIDS, but we have extended our mandate to other social issues such as development and empowerment,” he said, during an OAFLAD conference in Niger.

Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care Deputy National Coordinator for Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT), Dr Solomon Mukungunugwa said the First Lady of Zimbabwe, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa has contributed immensely to the health delivery system in Zimbabwe.

He added that participating at the OAFLAD conference helps in shaping ideas and adopting best practices to ensure Zimbabwe achieves Universal Health Coverage by 2030.

“There are gaps that need to be addressed, but as a country, we have done a lot to achieve the universal health coverage. Our First Lady is championing health care service provision and, as a ministry, we are working on robust financing activities to fund the process,” said Dr Mukungunungwa.

To achieve the universal health coverage, community involvement is said to be key and issues of advocacy by first ladies remain critical.

In Zimbabwe, a Free to Shine campaign against HIV/AIDS was launched last year in August and it is one of the success stories of OAFLAD.