Health stakeholders have been saddened by the untimely death of former Health minister and health advisor to the President and Cabinet Timothy Stamps who succumbed to lung infection on Sunday.
Those who spoke to the Daily News said Stamps, who died at 81, had played a crucial role in promoting public health in Zimbabwe.
“We are saddened by the death of a person who contributed so immensely and selflessly to the health system in Zimbabwe as a practitioner and policy maker, and policy adviser. We stand with the family in this difficult time in their lives,” Health and Child Care ministry permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji said.
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said Stamps’ openness to civil society health advocacy was appreciated as it made him implement programmes and policies that improved the health sector.
“To us, it’s a sad loss. This is the passing of someone who was a public health hero. He was a minister who had an open-door policy. When our organisation started, it was a time when some of the officials in his ministry were not open to the idea of health advocacy civil society criticising government but he was open to us, because he wanted to know the issues that were affecting the communities. He appreciated civil society,” Rusike said.
“He would come to our events and sit through discussions as he wanted to hear the health issues that were affecting the communities.
“He also played a huge role in demystifying HIV, as he would openly talk about it. At one time I remembered he was even labelled as ‘kill joy’ because he openly talked about HIV. We have lost possibly the best Health minister we have ever had in this country. And the health indicators are there to prove it.”
Rusike said Stamps also played a big role in advocating for a better budget for the health sector.
“He used to fight. Look at the ministry budget now, look at the budget allocation, we would know that after Education, we would engage the ministry of Finance and make sure that we get enough.
“In terms of public facilities we have done badly, there is nothing, no tablets, no gloves, no machines, nothing.
“In terms of maternal mortality we are comparing with countries that are at war. We are not putting our money in the health sector, no human resources. All this boils down to what is the role of a Health minister,” he said.
Doctors under the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZiMA) also sent out condolences to his family.
“ZiMA mourns the passing on of … Stamps, former minister of Health and Child Care and health advisor to the Office of President and Cabinet who passed on in Harare.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time,” the association said in a terse statement.