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Enabling Healthier Lifestyles in Local Communities

In line with the vision of promoting and enabling healthier communities, OVH Energy organized its 2nd edition of the Roll Back Malaria Campaign in partnership with African Clean Up Initiative at Onne, Rivers State. This initiative is a strategic collaboration with the communities in which we operate to identify and tackle specific problems that will aid in eliminating and subsequently eradicating associated effects of malaria in this region through treatment, testing, education and empowerment.
According to Huub Stokman, CEO of OVH Energy, the Roll Back Malaria Campaign is a corporate social responsibility initiative which supports local communities through medical treatment and preventative programmes, educating the community on the dangers of malaria and recommending practical ways to better protect themselves and their families and to safeguard their environment against malaria parasites. “Malaria presents a formidable challenge in this part of the world affecting the most vulnerable members of our society such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. With our support, local communities have an opportunity to protect themselves and reduce the negative impact on health, education and employment, thereby minimising some of the longer term economic impacts of malaria”” he said.
This initiative was hosted with specialists and healthcare practitioners who educated the community on preventive measures and practical steps to prevent malaria outbreaks. The programme featured free medical consultations and administration of anti-malarial medication; individual health counselling and the distribution of free insecticide-treated mosquito nets  
OVH Energy’s commitment to enriching her host community is one worthy of emulation by other corporate bodies. Environmental responsibility should become a critical part of a company’s culture. It is imperative that companies become passionate about the communities that host their operations and utilise every opportunity to give back to those communities.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a 21st century business strategy which many corporate organisations have come to adopt. CSR generally describes an organization’s efforts to improve society through good causes, which often focuses on areas such as healthcare, education, art and culture, entrepreneurship and sports. 
In recent times, healthcare has become a focal point for CSR endeavors of most corporate organisations as a healthy workforce and community is critical to the longevity of a business and success of an economy.  Health has increasingly become a priority of governments, and corporate organisations which focus their CSR initiatives on providing good healthcare in their local communities foster a relationship of trust, contribute to healthier and vibrant communities whilst sustaining a positive brand reputation as a responsible organization.
On the issue of health, the 2018 World Health Organisation report on malaria shows that there were estimated 216 million clinical cases of malaria in 2016, an increase of about 5 million cases over 2015, with deaths reaching 445,000. Africa carries 80% of the global malaria burden with Nigeria accounting for 27% of malaria cases and 24% of malaria deaths globally. As revealed by the World Health Organisation in April 2018 during the commemoration of the World Malaria Day themed ‘Ready to Beat Malaria’, this growing endemic remains a major public health and development challenge in Nigeria placing a huge financially burden on Government, to fund malaria prevention and treatment and the impact of lost man hours which is currently estimated at N132 billion per annum.
The economic impact of the endemicity of malaria cannot be overemphasised. According to a recent study from culled from a World Health Organisation report, adverse economic impact of malaria in Africa is probably even greater than 1% of GDP, this figure represents lost productivity through premature mortality and time off work due to sickness. Furthermore, malaria in schoolchildren is a major cause of absenteeism and possibly has a negative effect on their education. It may also reduce potential development opportunities by making certain zones unsuitable for habitation, deterring international trade and foreign investment, and jeopardizing the development of sectors such as tourism. Economic development may also be negatively impacted by limited access to international knowledge and technology because companies may be reluctant to send representatives to high risk malaria countries.  Malaria may thus be a cause, and not just a consequence, of underdevelopment in certain countries.
The highly evolved drug resistance of the malaria parasite to anti-malarial medication also presents a potentially devastating threat to effective treatment and since effective and affordable options are quickly running out, other options need to be explored. One option is the prevention tactic – educating citizens on preventative measures to adopt and for two years now, leading downstream Company, OVH Energy has championed this cause.
Just as OVH Energy is using information to enable healthier lifestyles and encourage attitudinal change to eradicate the malaria in her local communities, companies need to identify social issues and find innovative ways to provide assist local communities to prosper.
When this becomes norm, we will see the birth of a nation that is thriving.

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