Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) has installed a 5,000 litre Community Handwashing Station at Mbarara Referral Hospital in western Uganda. The move is aimed at curbing the spread COVID-19.
CCBA, through Century and Rwenzori Bottling Companies in Uganda, has so far established five 5,000litre Community Handwashing Stations for the general public use in Namanve, Kyambogo and Mbarara.
General Manager Melkamu Abebe, in a message delivered by Mbarara Plant Manager Joackim Baluku, said the Company was committed to contributing to efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 in communities.
“Across the Coca-Cola system we always look for meaningful ways to contribute to our people, including the communities we serve. We are guided by our company purpose: refresh the world and make a difference in the community. We do what we do because we are people-centered. We provided safety measures inside our Plants to protect our employees and their families, and now with the Community Handwashing Tanks we are extending that protection to the general public,” Abebe said.
Mbarara Referral Hospital Director Celestine Barigye said the hospital had established two (2) handwashing stations but was overwhelmed by the numbers of people flocking the hospital. Hospital officials had raised concerns about long queues of people gathering at the stations to wash their hands, as an additional COVID-19 risk.
“When the Pandemic began, following the President’s advice we set-up the two handwashing facilities but they were not enough. With this new addition we can ensure more people wash hands faster and increase the safety of all. We also needed an extra reservoir tank and we have now received it. The tank from Coca-Cola has a large capacity so water availability is guaranteed,” he said.
Mbarara Referral Hospital currently has eight COVID-19 patients and has so far discharged 21 who have recovered successfully. The Hospital has a bed capacity to handle 30 patients at a go.
The CCBA handover yesterday also included 305 20-litre Handwashing Jerrycans for distribution at various busy points in Mbarara, handed to the COVID-19 District Task Force. This is part of the 5,000 Handwashing Jerrycans pledged for the national effort against COVID-19.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, CCBA has provided several interventions including; food relief worth Shs 390million from The Coca-Cola Foundation, distributed through the Uganda Red Cross Society to vulnerable families affected by the lockdown; Shs 85million to the Ministry of Health to buy medical equipment and sundries; public awareness worth UGX460million and three pick-up trucks for the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Task Force. So far the total contribution during this period is Shs 1.3billion.
Mbarara Plant Manager Joackim Baluku said the company would continue its support to the Mbarara community as it had done before COVID-19.
“We are part of this community and we are here to stay. In the past we have done work with the District including replenishing River Rwizi, which is important for us because we value water greatly but also need to ensure the community has good access to safe water as well. This contribution builds on that because we are still providing safe access to water but for a public health cause,” he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health have stressed that washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least twenty seconds every time is a key protective measure against acquiring or spreading COVID-19.
Speaking during the handover, Peter Sebutinde, the Mbarara District Health Officer implored Ugandans to follow WHO and Government guidelines against COVID-19. He also thanked Coca-Cola for the interventions in the public interest.
“Thank you for being a responsible corporate company. We applaud you for this initiative and will take this message further than this,” he said.
Through Rwenzori Bottling Company, CCBA has also manufactured and distributed Hand Sanitizers free of charge to select segments of society across the country, including those involved in fast-moving consumer goods wholesale and retail trading. The hand sanitizer has also been distributed to employees and their families.