Standard Chartered Bank’s launch of its ambitious AfricaÔÇôwide project called ‘Nets for Life’ in Maun, Botswana, recently, is part of a three-year USD 12 million initiative designed to reduce the transmission of the malarial parasite through improved preventive measures.
As part of the initiative, the Bank has entered into a partnership with Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) to embark on a program which has already distributed 1 million long lasting Insecticide Treated Nets since 2006.
It has been indicated that, in addition to SC’s financial commitment and on-the-ground support for the program, the Bank has been instrumental in setting up a robust governance structure around the entire program and has ensured representation in all the key governance committees.
Speaking at the occasion of the launch of the initiative at the Maun kgotla amid ululations and clatter of applause, the Chief Executive Officer of the Bank’s Botswana branch, David Cutting, said that distribution of long lasting Insecticide Treated Nets is being complemented by parallel educational programs which will raise awareness on the long term sustainable use of nets.
“Our primary focus is on the most vulnerable people: children under the age of 5, pregnant women, the chronologically ill and the elderly,” stated Cutting. In addition he said that a total of 40 community agents have been trained and they will be visiting homes, and using local community gatherings to carry out educational programs.
Dr Kolaatamo Malefho, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health noted that Government would continue to make the call to the private sector to partner with Government in its Endeavour to better the lives of local communities.
He said, “I would like to remind the nation that malaria kills more people, especially children and pregnant women, than any other disease on this planet.”
Malefho added that there is ample evidence to suggest that the fight against malaria can not be won by any one single entity without the cooperation of other stakeholders. He said that not even Government can combat malaria on its own despite increasing focus to fight the disease.
“This, therefore, calls for every responsible citizen to contribute towards rolling back malaria,” cautioned the senior Health Official who also urged organizations like SC Bank’s to “step up to help us make a sustainable difference in the lives of our people”.
According to S C B of Botswana’s Head of Communications and Public Affairs, Thabi Letsunyane, it has been decided that due to considerable success of the Nets for life program, a second phase will be initiated in 2009 in which US 50 million is expected to be raised for distribution of a minimum of 5 million long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLITNs) over the next five years.
“It is intended that the Bank’ focus will be to increase its staff engagement in Nets for Life; training them as materials agents, allowing them to assist in distribution and education locally,” said Cutting. The CEO also took the opportunity to acknowledge and thank the Bank’s partners, the ERD though its head, Susan Lassen who attended the launch both with the Right Reverend Bishop Trevor Mwamba of the Anglican Diocese of Botswana.
The Clinton Foundation was also acknowledged as having co-sponsored the project up to implementation.
It has been reported by the Bank authorities that since April, 2006 a total of over 5,000 malaria agents have been trained and 1, 000, 000 nets have already been distributed in at least 14 countries.
The countries, which form the list earmarked for the first phase include; Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana. Liberia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Nigeria are also the benefactors of the Nets for Life project, as well as Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.
Letsunyane told the Sunday Standard that the initiative is part of the Banks long standing policy on social responsibility towards communities.