AU receives donation from Old Mutual to upscale its production of hand sanitizers in the fight against COVID

On the 9th of April 2020, Africa University received a boost to its hand sanitizer production capacity of 350 000 ZWL that will go towards up scaling operations that will see the university increasing its output. In a handover ceremony held online in keeping with global health best practice, Africa University Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa expressed gratitude on behalf of the entire institution for the generous gift. He said, “I would like to convey to you our deepest gratitude for your grant of ZWL 350 000.00 to Africa University. This generous support is crucial in advancing our efforts to reduce COVID- 19 infections. As a University, we strongly believe that stopping one infection today will prevent several times as many infections in the future. The grant has therefore come at an important time when Africa University is scaling up its efforts to develop products that assist in preventing the spread of COVID-19.”

The hand sanitizer project that is being led by Head of Public Health and Nursing Dr. Elton Mugomeri seeks to increase the access and availability of the sanitizers to Zimbabweans at a highly subsidized price making it affordable especially for those who serve in critical needs areas such as healthcare, agriculture and food services.  High demand has seen the supply of the product dwindling within the country as in other nations across the globe. Steep pricing has also created a barrier to access to those most vulnerable in the society. The sanitizers produced by Africa University shall also be made widely available to hospitals and pharmacies to ensure the people serving on the front line of the battle against COVID- 19 are adequately equipped with equipment that can help protect them from infection.

Old Mutual Group is one of the corporations that have been at the forefront in Zimbabwe in increasing capacity of industry and institutions of higher learning to fight the scourge. The group has dedicated 10 million dollars towards the making of masks, protective equipment and health insurance cover for healthcare professionals in the country. Old Mutual CEO Mr. Sam Matsekete spoke in detail of the need for corporations to lead from the front and offer assistance to all sectors, “We have taken steps to support the front line medical staff fighting the Corona Virus and bolster innovations capacity in tertiary institutions to address immediate and long- term impacts of the spread of the pandemic.”

Prof. Furusa went on to emphasize the need for institutions of higher learning and industry to break down the walls that have previously divided the them and to now find areas in which to collaborate and work together for the development of the nation. “The Old Mutual grants to Africa University and other institutions represent an excellent example of how collaboration with industry is key to developing the tools needed to tackle the spread of COVID 19. The support from Old Mutual has provided Africa University with one of the fastest ways to develop important tools to fight COVID 19. It is my sincere hope that our partnership will keep up the focus on research into such viruses in the future even if this current crisis dies down. Pandemics like COVID 19 require collaborative and real time coordinated effort in order to achieve required results. Collaborations between universities and industry have the greatest capacity to influence the production of cutting edge researches and discoveries as well as technological innovations and solutions. The co-collaborative model initiated by Old Mutual to urgently address health challenges facing our nation and to build strong, safe, and sustainable communities is a shining example of fruitful and impactful partnerships between Universities and Industry.”

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