Illovo Sugar Malawi Plc has been applauded as a caring corporate partner for Chikwawa when the company presented K40 million worth COVID-19 medical supplies for the district’s health office’s isolation on Wednesday.
The compony has also renovated the treatment unit based at Kasinthula and the medical supplies donated was procured as specified by District Health Office (DHO) in liaison with Chikwawa District Council’s health and sanitation committee.
In his vote of thanks on behalf of the District Commissioner, Councillor Wyson Bush said Illovo Sugar always supports emergencies that affect the district — which is a floods-prone area — as well as other social issues that affect the populace there.
“You have always been a true partner for the people of Chikwawa because we contribute towards Illovo’s business since we contribute a large workforce of the company,” Bush said.
“We don’t take this donation for granted because we take cognizance of past responses you have made towards other emergencies that have affected us long before COVID-19 pandemic came.
“This huge contribution you have made will really save lives. If we had such medical equipment before, we probably could not have lost many lives but I am confident that our healthcare workers will be better equipped to handle serious cases.”
The medical equipment donated included BP monitoring machines, pulse oximeters, thermometers, stethoscopes, patient supports such as ICU ventilator, nebuliser, oxygen cylinders and oxygen itself.
Also included are patient comfort equipment and tools such as beddings, bedpans patient trolleys as well as healthcare workers personal protective equipment like masks, face shields, aprons and goggles.
The DHO’s Director of Health and Social Services, Dr. Stalin Zimkanda said there is hope that the district can combat this deadly disease after being equipped with the Illovo donation.
“Together with the Council’s health and sanitation committee, we are strategizing on how we can continue fighting this pandemic and one of the ways is to sensitise the communities that they should religiously adhere to the preventive measures that are in effect.
“The best way is to prevent the spread and we also encourage them to immediately contact the health authorities once they feel COVID-19 symptoms.
“We also sensitise the communities not to stigmatize those that have tested positive and are on self isolation but to encourage them to be strong and seek medical help if their conditions deteorate.”
Zimkanda said they are encouraging the communities to seek immediate medical help once they develop symptoms because some are not trusting the hospital thinking the medical personnel inject patients with the virus.
“We are encouraging them to ignore fake news that circulates on social media that portray negative picture of healthcare workers which led to some of our staff to be verbally abused and others assaulted altogether.
“Fortunately, we have some patients that have recovered from our treatment unit that are acting as our ambassadors to share and spread positive stories on how dedicated our healthcare workers are towards healing COVID-19 patients,” he said.
Nchalo Estate General Manager Geoff Trott also said those who have recovered are testifying of how to remain positive during illness and how supportive healthcare workers are.
“We have all recognised the changes that this pandemic has brought have all not been easy leaving many questions for all of us such as; is this pandemic real?, is it safe to work with other people? What will others think if I get it, will it separate me from my family and friends.
“We all know a lot of people are concerned about the stigma attached to being COVID-19 positive. We had cases in our own very open workplace which has good medical expertise and facilities where some individuals have delayed to come forward because they are concerned about how their peers will view them.”
He then gave an example of one worker who got very sick of the disease but once he returned to work after been fully recovered, he took it upon himself to talk to fellow staff members on how to stay psychologically positive and to trust the medical system.
The member of staff has been sensitising others that they should protect themselves which in effect protects their own family members and fellow workers.
“Our COVID-19 ambassador’s experience is that when people know you are sick, they seem to check in a little more often albeit from a distance through phone calls and messages of encouragement.
“Being able to step forward and understand the concerns and guide others so publicly is showing true care and this is important when you are in a lonely undecided space.
“I say phone or visit a friend who is in despair about a lost one or a decision to get a test to help them through a difficult time.
“This is a time for special care but also continue to observe the social distancing, washing hands with soap and mask wearing guidelines,” Trott said.
Internally, the company initiated a campaign tagged ‘COVID-19: It’s In Our Hands’ which it launched in April 2020 aimed at encouraging all employees to commit to behaving in a manner that will help stop the spread of the pandemic at work, in their homes and in their communities.
When President Lazarus Chakwera announced the National State of Disaster on January 12 following the upsurge of the COVID-19 second wave he appealed to stakeholders and well-wishers that prompted several corporate companies to come forward and assist.
Illovo Sugar Malawi contribute K100 million of which K20 million was for medical supplies for Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre and K40 million each for Kasinthula and the company’s other district estate in Nkhotakota.
This contribution is in addition to the K10 million which Illovo Sugar made during the first wave of the pandemic to the Kameza isolation center in form of hospital beds and monitors and a further K60 million support for Blantyre City Council, Chikwawa and Nkhotakota district hospitals during the first wave.
“As a business, we believe that in order for us to succeed we need the communities we operate in to thrive,” Trott said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted livelihoods and created devastation through the increase in number of deaths since the beginning of the year.”
As of Wednesday, the country registered 328 new COVID-19 cases, 518 new recoveries, 17 new deaths and of the new cases, 317 are locally transmitted with Lilongwe as the highest at 155 from Lilongwe, followed by Blantyre at 78.
Of the 17 new COVID-19 deaths registered: seven from Blantyre, three from Lilongwe, two each from NKhata Bay and Zomba, and one each from Machinga, Mulanje, and Phalombe Districts.
Of the active cases, 214 are hospitalised with Lilongwe as the highest at 61 followed by Blantyre at 59 with 20 in Mzimba North and 11 in Zomba.
There were 31 cases that were hospitalised on Wednesday while 24 were discharged. Cumulatively, 12.583 cases have now recovered, 134 were lost to follow-up, and 76 are still being investigated to ascertain their outcome — bringing the total number of active cases to 14,357.
Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 28,050 cases including 900 deaths (case fatality rate at 3.2%).
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