When Namibia was in the midst of a deadly third wave of coronavirus with hospitals full and oxygen supplies running out, Namibia’s private sector, under the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry stepped in.
The Namibian private sector emergency response swiftly installed a 21 tonne tank of oxygen at the Katutura State Hospital.
The NCCI’s immediate response in tackling the shortage of medical oxygen to mitigate and minimise the effects of the pandemic undoubtedly saved many lives.
At the handover, NCCI president Bisey /Uirab said the initial tonnage of liquid oxygen will be used to fill up the bulk storage tank at the Katutura State Hospital, with the remaining amount being distributed to other hospitals in critically short supply.
“The NCCI continues to mobilise support from within the Namibian private sector to ensure that we are in a position to offset the shortfall through sponsorship and donations towards the costs and logistics surrounding critical oxygen supply into our country,” said /Uirab. He further commended the cooperation established between Afrox and the South African and Namibian company Kryogas. He noted Kryogas was able to secure significant volumes of liquid oxygen from the Air Products facility in Johannesburg.
“The turn-around time for each truck carrying oxygen ISO containers is expected to be one week, meaning that the consortium of suppliers will be in a position to provide additional trucks on a weekly cycle. The private sector has committed itself to continue the same supply every week up to the end of September,” he mentioned.
“We are approaching other large private sector companies to sponsor all future weekly loads from Afrox and Kryogas Namibia with the objective of entirely eliminating the shortfall of oxygen in the country,” stated the managing director of B2Gold Namibia at the handover, Mark Dawe.
Dawe added that support from the private sector would contribute towards strengthening the healthcare delivery system and provide an added impetus to joint efforts in the fight against the pandemic. “As the funding allows, the private sector is looking at supporting government in other Covid-19 related needs such as beds availability and other critical needs.”
Repaired beds handed back to health ministry
It was at the official handover of the first oxygen tank that the sight of broken beds piled just outside the Katutura hospital caught business people’s eyes. Members of the NCCI coalition then took it upon themselves to assess the extent of the damages and it occurred that the beds were repairable.
Hangala Construction collaborated with B2Gold Namibia and Procon to fix 100 hospital beds that were handed back on 19 July 2021 to the health ministry.
Leake Hangala, executive chairman of Hangala Group noted that the teaming up and pooling of financial, intellectual and experience is not only commendable but also important. “They stood up to the call of duty at a moment when all forms of support are critically needed,” he said.
Hangala added that extensive investments in Namibia are needed in the areas of agro-processing as well as manufacturing of locally essential commodities such as medical oxygen and other pharmaceuticals.
Furthermore, /Uirab said the private sector initiative also hopes to dismantle the negative publicity around Covid-19 vaccinations and to lead the drive to vaccinate the Namibian population as soon as possible.
“We encourage people to take vaccinations as provided by the government. We also call upon the populace to adhere to the laid down Covid-19 protocols in order to slow down the infection rate,” he advised.
As the vaccine rollout continues, the chamber encourages businesses, other sector organisations to encourage and facilitate employees to participate.
Vaccination is Namibia’s best defence against combating the Covid-19 virus and offers the greatest chance of a swift return to normalcy and economic recovery.
/Uirab cautioned that Namibia’s economy would not recover without interventions. “We must continue to support local businesses so that they can survive and be well positioned to grow wealth and jobs, going forward. Therefore, Government and other institutions such as commercial banks, in particular, should engage more to explore more innovative support interventions that can provide business with softening measures to survive this challenging period and sustainably grow beyond this pandemic.” -firstname.lastname@example.org