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Corporate Zim unites in the fight against Covid-19





WHILE the coronavirus pandemic has exposed mankind to one of the worst disease outbreaks in modern times, it is also bringing out the best in people.

With global giants such as Alibaba, Roche and Amazon digging deep into their pockets to ensure the global healthcare system is not overwhelmed, Zimbabwean corporates are refusing to be left behind in spite of the dire economic situation they are operating under.

Many Zimbabwean companies have produced Covid-19 protocols to guide their staff in the fight against the disease, with most of them putting emphasis on personal hygiene while raising public awareness in combating the disease whose death toll has reached nearly 38,000 from the 787 000 reported cases globally, of which 166 000 people recovered from it.

As part of the awareness campaign, some have produced video clips in which their staff share health tips on how Covid-19 is spread and how it can be prevented.

Substantial amount of money has also been invested into the provision of masks, gloves, hand sanitizers and other protective clothing, commonly referred to as (PPE).

Just recently, EcoSure - a subsidiary of the Strive Masiyiwa owned EWZ stepped in to rescue the situation, with the insurance firm announcing that it was equipping medical staff with PPE, providing them with life and health insurance and offering them safe transport to and from work daily, for the coming 12 months.

"In the situation we find ourselves in as a nation, we want to ensure all frontline medical staff are fully protected and we are putting in place measures that give them confidence as they carry out their noble duty of primary patient care and as they save lives," said Eddie Chibi, the chief executive officer of Cassava Smartech, the parent company of the EcoSure insurance business.

In the same week, civil engineering company Bitumen World donated 40 000 litres of diesel to government for use in the fight against the pandemic.

At the same time, African Medallion Group (AMG) announced a US$5 million financial aid package to Zimbabwe to help the country fight the Covid-19 outbreak which has claimed one life among seven confirmed cases so far.
The firm, which has bases in Zimbabwe and South Africa, also extended a R10 million facility to assist the latter deal with same challenge.

"AMG notes with concern the rise in cases of the coronavirus and as part of our efforts in investing in the wellbeing of our communities, we shall immediately be disbursing a fund of R10 million for South Africa through the Office of the President and Ministry of Health and $5 million for Zimbabwe through the Central Coronavirus Task Force led by Vice President General (Rtd) Chiwenga," AMG's chief executive officer, Itai Munganidze said.

Health workers also received a shot in the arm from the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) which offered 200 monthly food hampers for two months to medical personnel specifically deployed to deal with Covid-19.

GMAZ went a step further by providing adequate food (maize-meal, rice, flour, salt and sugar beans) to all Covid-19 referral hospitals nationwide for would-be patients for the next two months.

This week, Nyaradzo Group, which is already collaborating with other partners in fighting the virus, took a giant leap forward by unveiling screening and testing facilities for staff in the face of the health crisis.
The group is operating two clinics in Harare and Ruwa where staff will be tested and screened for Covid-19, becoming the first company to do so in Zimbabwe.

Ms Kuda Chanakira, the human resource executive for the integrated financial services concern said, Nyaradzo which employs in excess of 1300 workers, advocates for a healthy body and healthy mind as sine quo non to increased productivity, more so as the authorities in Zimbabwe have designated providers of essential services such as theirs to take the lead in the fight against Covid-19 during the 21-day lockdown.

Ms Chanakira said their clinics are equipped with rapid test kits approved by a government-recommended supplier to test staff for Covid-19, and immediately isolate those who would have been found to be positive inside camping equipment manufactured for their events management division.

"The rapid test kits are able to show current infection which will form the basis for screening. Once an employee has tested positive, they will self-isolate. In the meantime, the swab sample will be sent for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which can find viral particles on a person, which is more definitive," said Ms Chanakira.

Each clinic of the two clinics is capable of testing up to 50 workers per day, which means that within a week about 700 Nyaradzo Group employees would have been tested for Covid-19.

Ms Chanakira said none of their employees have tested positive for Covid-19 since they started last week.

"We are glad that none of our employees has tested positive and the onus is now on all of us at Nyaradzo to abide by the World Health Organisation standards and regulations to keep ourselves healthy and play our part in helping our fellow citizens fight this pandemic," she said, adding that the group has roped in a medical doctor, nurses and professional counsellor to support their clinics.

A four point plan put in place by Nyaradzo underlines protection by observing safety protocols so their staff don't get infected; testing, isolation and treatment; integration and protection by observing safety protocols to avoid reinfection and that Zimbabwe can immediately go back to work after the 21 day lockdown period.

Worldwide, corporates have awoken to the disease and are putting in place measures to support efforts aimed at halting its spread.

And as the number of confirmed Covid-19 coronavirus cases continue to rise, entrepreneurs, businesses and multimillionaire philanthropists are pledging their support.

Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, is taking no chances; through his foundation, he is donating 1.1 million testing kits, 6 million masks, and 60,000 protective suits and face shields. They were all being sent to Ethiopia first, from where they have since found their way to every other country on the African continent.

The owner and founder of 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit, a Company in Vail, Colorado said they were planning to start handing it out for free to people who drive by the distillery.

While Scottish brewery BrewDog has also gone into production of hand sanitizers, among other Scottish distilleries doing the same, and French drinks company Pernod Ricard was donating pure alcohol.

Amazon has said it will donate $5 million to local businesses based near its Seattle headquarters that will likely lose out on sales now that the tech giant's thousands of staff are working from home.

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche has started shipping coronavirus tests to the US and plans to get at least 400,000 out every week. Its fully automated tests are capable of delivering up to 960 sets of results every eight hours using one of its powerful analysis machines.

The test kits are destined for around 30 labs that have a broad geographic reach and high patient impact.
    
Robin Mungate is a development expert with interest in Corporate Social Responsibility practices in the southern African region. He writes here in his personal capacity. He can be contacted at mungaterobin85@gmail.com

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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