The image is striking: three masked people holding a portable ventilator. The Swiss Ambassador to Côte d'Ivoire Anne Lugon-Moulin and the Nestlé Côte d'Ivoire CEO Thomas Caso are presenting a Nestlé donation to the Minister of Health and Public Hygiene, Dr. Eugène Aka Aouélé.
Ambassador Lugon-Moulin commended the Ivorian Government on its response to the pandemic, adding: "I am impressed by the ongoing efforts to raise awareness about the preventive measures to adopt in order to minimize the spread of the coronavirus."
The story of these ventilators reflects something we have all been feeling since the outbreak of this pandemic; it has led us to realize the need for individual and collective responsibility. Nestlé is no exception.
How did it all start?
At the end of a brainstorming session, Dr. Patricia Amondji, Dr. Marie-Claude Kouassi and Dr. Eric Bouaffon, all doctors at Nestlé Côte d'Ivoire, suggested a donation to the Infectious and Tropical Disease Service of the Treichville University Hospital. This is the unit critical COVID-19 patients are referred to in Côte d'Ivoire. The Nestlé leadership team loved the idea, as did the public health authorities, who had called upon national solidarity to fight the pandemic.
The donation included two ventilators, complementing the 18 ordered by the government in addition to the four already available in this West African country of 25 million inhabitants. There were also 10 automatic hospital beds, gowns and surgical masks offered for distribution by the Treichville COVID-19 unit to the 15 care units, 14 screening facilities and three confinement centers newly opened in the country to manage the pandemic in a decentralized manner.
"We are happy we heeded the call because, as doctors, we are convinced that the battle against COVID-19 can only be won if we minimize transmissions and provide doctors with medical and personal protective equipment to enable them treat severe cases, especially people with underlying conditions who need to be assisted by ventilators to stay alive", Dr. Amondji said.
The donation is timely, as the need for ventilators exceeds available equipment. It took place in Côte d'Ivoire but it could have been elsewhere in the world. Expressions of solidarity and support to those impacted by COVID-19 are becoming more commonplace; and Nestlé and its employees have stood up and helped around the world. There is a common thread to the most impactful initiatives: the best ideas come from the employees directly. This is what makes each donation so unique and a true source of pride for all.