I keep saying that although everybody deserves total protection from COVID-19, our health workers need absolute priority. They are the first line of defense in the fight against the pandemic and while a lot of us are able to work from home, they have to march into the heart of the pandemic and save as many lives and livelihoods as possible. They are the ones who have to keep the country healthy.
When the story of COVID-19 is written, the role of private sector in equipping healthcare workers with much needed Personal Protective Equipment should and will certainly feature prominently. Surgical masks, N95 masks, hand sanitizers, gowns, hazmat suits and face shields among others.
On Friday afternoon I had a word with Henry Kilonz0 – Senior Manager in charge of Foundations Programs at Safaricom. The interview was about maternal and child health but these being the times we are in in terms of the pandemic, the topic certainly came up.
In an excerpt of our interview, Henry talked about Safaricom and MPESA Foundations involvement in donating PPEs to over half the counties in the country.
How much has COVID-19 interfered with the Foundations’ operations?
When we had the first case, there was the Government’s guidelines on social distancing and travel. Our community engagements definitely were interfered with because most of the times we are otherwise out there with the communities and now we could not do that.
We had constructions going on in different regions in the country. The contractors on site and partners on ground had to reduce their numbers so they could practice social distancing.
Our community health volunteers had to reduce their internal meetings for planning and reduce the level of interactions with the households. To mitigate this, we made sure that the community health workers in maternal health programs were fully kitted to protect themselves and the people they were working with. We quickly supplied PPEs, sanitizers, masks, gloves, and we also did a lot of sensitization on how to operate.
In terms of constructions, we had to negotiate new timelines with our partners. As Safaricom we are in almost all major towns, so we have our regional offices and our regional colleagues were able to support handovers instead of somebody leaving Nairobi.
We also had to look at our budgets and plans for the year and innovate so that we are Covid sensitive. We had to align so as to include key activities to help in community response. As we speak now, we have been able to support 31 counties with PPEs. We have supported many NGOs, community groups and youth groups to respond to the impact of Covid. We have also been working with other organizations to ensure that children are able to learn from home where applicable by providing connectivity and devices.
I got some figures from another source that show the extent of the support that Safaricom and M-PESA foundations have gone to as below.
|Safaricom Foundation Funding|
|15||Kiambu – Thika Level 5 Hospital||1,500,000.00|
|M-PESA Foundation Funding|
Quite commendable considering they are not done yet.