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Old Mutual unveils $2 billion package to fight Covid-19 in Zimbabwe

by Staff reporter
10 Apr 2020 at 08:00hrs | Views
GIANT financial services group, Old Mutual, has unveiled a ZWL$2 billion risk cover for frontline health care workers in the fight against Covid-19 in Zimbabwe.

Speaking during a podcast meeting the institution's group chief executive officer Mr Sam Matsekete said: "Old Mutual is today announcing a ZWL$2 billion worth of cover to health professionals on the front line in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic for a period of six months."

He said the facility comes at a time when his organisation and its subsidiaries that include Central Africa Building Society (CABS), have taken initiatives to support the frontline medical staff fighting the Covid-19 and bolster innovations capacity in tertiary institutions to address immediate and long-term impacts from the spread of the global pandemic.

Following the outbreak of the disease in the country a few weeks ago, some of Zimbabwe's institutions of higher learning such as the National University of Science and Technology, Midlands State University, Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) and Africa University (AU), have been manufacturing protective gear and disinfectants in the fight against the disease.

Mr Matsekete said the facility that Old Mutual has availed covers the life of the health professionals for the period April to 30 September 2020. "The priority is to safeguard the health professionals as they battle to save the lives of Zimbabweans.

"In the unfortunate event of losing the life of a health professional, Old Mutual undertakes to pay up to 12 times monthly basic salary to the surviving family of the health professional," he said. Through the scheme, Covid-19 deaths and accidental deaths are covered immediately while death from any other causes has a three- month waiting period.

Mr Matsekete said the Old Mutual shareholders will pay up premiums to cover the lives of health professionals registered under this cover for six months.

"In this period of crisis, we have mobilised to work alongside those who are fighting the pandemic, which is why we have decided to make this practical gesture of support to our hospital staff, who are working to ensure adequate care for patients as well as universities, which are innovating to produce key materials required to fight the pandemic," he said.

The Old Mutual boss pointed out that unlike the traditional cover offered, this was neither a product nor a policy and thus no premiums would be recovered on it during the six months free-period. And to qualify to receive free cover for six months, health professionals have to register with Old Mutual. Beyond six months, health professionals will be offered the opportunity to continue the cover at a discounted cost.

"In addition, as responsible businesses, Old Mutual together with CABS have put together a further ZW$3,5 million towards the fight against Covid-19.

"The group will provide healthcare staff at Sally Mugabe Hospital (formerly Harare Hospital) and at Thorngrove in Bulawayo with protective gear, and will assist Africa University in Mutare and Chinhoyi University of Technology to ramp up production of sanitisers and face masks respectively."

In consultation with health authorities, Old Mutual and CABS will be providing 300 protective kits to health workers at Sally Mugabe Hospital and 200 other protective kits to Thorngrove Hospital. "Each protective kit includes two PVC aprons, two cotton gowns, 10 respirators, 10 overshoes and one box of latex gloves," he said.

"The protective gear is being locally-produced and the producer has assured adherence to relevant health standards.

"Delivery of the material to the medical institutions will be completed over the next week."

At AU, Old Mutual and CABS are partnering the institution of higher learning to continue their efforts to innovate and partner with industry to mass-produce sanitisers, some of which will be distributed in the community.

CUT, which has already started to produce masks, will receive four overlocking machines, which will enable the institution to increase throughput from the current 3 000 to 6 000 masks a day.

Mr Matsekete said Old Mutual and its subsidiaries affirm themselves as corporate citizens that are stepping up efforts to support the nation to battle against Covid-19.

Commenting on the gesture by Old Mutual, vice chairperson of Business Fighting Covid-19 (BFC-19), Dr Lance Mambondiani, who is also the Finance and Resource Mobilisation Fundraising Lead for the Trust said: "After SeedCo, Old Mutual is the second major corporate that BFC-19 Trust is partnering with.

"This extension of a life cover to health staff demonstrates the incredible collaborative spirit that the Zimbabwean business sector has shown in responding to this crisis and channelling resources to where the need is greatest," he said. The Old Mutual donation for protective equipment goes a long way in protecting the heroes and heroines operating on the front line in fighting Covid-19.

"The donation also enhances the productive capabilities of our local tertiary institutions to accelerate the innovation and production of personal protective equipment at both Chinhoyi and Africa Universities," said Dr Mambondiani.

Speaking at the same occasion, AU vice chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa, said the Old Mutual donation was crucial in supporting efforts to reduce Covid-19 infections.

"As a university, we strongly believe that stopping one infection today will prevent several times as many infections in the future. The grant has therefore come at an important time when Africa University is scaling-up its efforts to innovate and produce products that assist in preventing the spread of Covid-19.

"This particular donation will support the mass production of the hand sanitiser produced by Africa University research teams.

"The mass production of the hand sanitiser will start before the end of this week. We cherish the strong partnership we have with Old Mutual," he said.

Meanwhile, Old Mutual group shareholders have earmarked over ZW$10 million to support the Government's efforts and the country at large in fighting Covid-19.

Source - chroncile