Econet lends strong hand to cholera crisis

HARARE - Econet Wireless has mounted a massive public awareness campaign to fight the burgeoning cholera crisis in Zimbabwe, which is reported to have already claimed 21 lives.

The company has also begun to offer material support to the public health teams working to combat the epidemic.

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe CEO Douglas Mboweni yesterday said the company had partnered with the responsible authorities to fight the disease.

“We have partnered with the government, through the ministry of Health’s department of Epidemiology and Disease Control, to offer centrally coordinated material support to the nationwide effort to combat the cholera outbreak.

“We are sad at the deaths that have been reported due to the outbreak of this disease and we will play our part by using our resources and our reach to help prevent the spread of the disease and save lives” Mboweni said.

He said the support included preventive items, such as hand sterilisation material, aqua tablets and special protective clothing for health workers, as well as case management supplies that include antibiotic medicines and IVR fluids.

On Tuesday, the minister of Health and Child Care Obadiah Moyo declared an emergency on the capital Harare, opening the door for an all-out mobilisation of resources — funding, medicines, manpower and an information, education and awareness campaign — to fight the spread of the disease, whose “epicentre” has been identified as the sprawling high-density suburbs of Glen View, Glen Norah and Budiriro. Mboweni said Econet had already begun sending out free SMS alerts to the public, educating them on how the disease is contracted and how it spreads, how to avoid contracting the disease, how to prevent its spread and how to treat the disease.

Cholera is a highly infectious disease caused by drinking water or eating food contaminated by the vibrio cholera bacterium. Its major symptoms are severe diarrhoea and vomiting, which leads to dehydration — that can result in death in a matter of hours, if not treated.

Reports say the current outbreak of the disease was triggered by contamination of communal boreholes in the Budiriro and Glen View high density suburbs by the cholera bacteria.

Mboweni, whose company has offices in the major cities and towns in Zimbabwe and whose business operates a nationwide shop network, said Econet had also taken immediate steps to ensure that its staff and customers are safe from the disease.

“We have started an education and awareness programme among our staff and stepped up hygiene and sanitation standards in all our outlets,” he said.

Part of the efforts included availing antibacterial hand sanitisation liquids by the entrances and within all the company’s facilities, keeping supplies of ORS treatment kits and setting up a hotline to report suspected cases of the disease.

Econet has in the past worked with the government, development agencies (such as the World Health Organisation), local and international NGOs to respond to public health crises. It also works with the Civil Protection Unit to warn of, and mitigate against national disasters.

In 2008, Econet created the National Healthcare Trust through Higherlife Foundation. It has over the years invested millions of dollars funding public healthcare projects in collaboration with key players in the public healthcare delivery space.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.