The Debswana Diamond Company will tomorrow receive the Global Business Coalition (GBC) award for Expanded Community Initiatives: HIV/AIDS, from the Global Business Coalition on HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC).
This is in recognition of the unique contribution Debswana has made in working with the Government of Botswana to scale up access to Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) to reach many Batswana. Through the partnership, Debswana uses its internal resources and capacity to fill gaps in the Government’s health system.
According to GBC, the recognition given to companies that got commendations and awards is designed to both celebrate the biggest successes and to attract more companies to put their talents, knowledge and resources to work as part of a well-coordinated global campaign.
In a statement, the GBC Executive Director, John Tedstrom, said they are proud to commend Debswana for its outstanding HIV/AIDS community program. He said this is a remarkable initiative which fills a critical gap in the local health system by providing treatment and care for non-employees living with HIV/AIDS in the surrounding community.
“Debswana is an integral part of an expanding, cohesive business movement reaching individuals around the world with much-needed treatment and care. Businesses like Debswana possess the skills, resources and influence to achieve otherwise inconceivable outcomes. We need many, many more to make their own contribution,” he stated.
According to Debswana Managing Director, Blackie Marole, diamond revenues are used for good causes in Botswana. He said this is a clear example to the world of how they utilize revenues they get from diamonds to assist Botswana in fighting HIV/AIDS.
“There are social benefits of buying a diamond. At this special moment, we express our gratitude to people who buy diamonds. Every dollar they spend on diamonds goes towards economic and social development, including saving lives,” he stated. Marole further added that they are honoured to receive this commendation.
Touching more on the background of Debswana, Marole revealed that Debswana began offering its employees and their spouses’ anti-retroviral therapy (ART) in May 2001. He said the programme was expanded in 2006 to include employees’ dependents who are under 21 years.
“Diamond revenues have enabled us to give ART to our employees and partner with Government to increase access to the nation-wide HAART programme to non-Debswana employees living in communities around the mines. Diamonds are for good in Botswana,” he said. Beyond their own employees, he said the hospitals and medical doctors have been available to distribute HARRT to non-Debswana employees since 2003.
Marole will receive the commendation on behalf of the company at the 2008 GBC Awards for Business Excellence Gala to be held tomorrow (Monday) in New York. Among the honoured guests expected at the gala will be UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UN Special Envoy for Malaria and Malaria No More Founder Ray Chambers, UN Special Envoy to Stop TB, Jorge Sampaio, and Botswana’s Minister of Presidential Affairs, Daniel Kwelagobe.
About 750 dignitaries from various private, public and non-governmental organizations and celebrities are expected to attend the gala.