By Vanessa Obioha
The Coca-Cola Company alongside 14 other global corporations under the platform Friends of the Global Fund have urged US Congressional leaders to continue to provide healthcare funding support to sub-Saharan African countries so that the pandemic and its consequences do not result in an increase in deaths from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, which are among the top five killer diseases on the continent.
The companies made their plea in a joint letter sent recently to the US Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell; House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi; and the Senate and the House Minority Leaders. The letter highlighted the companies’ advocacy for the Covid-19 supplemental funding legislation to include increased investments to support sub-Saharan healthcare systems and workers.
“In sub-Saharan Africa, Covid-19 threatens fragile health systems and the virus has the potential to infect nearly a quarter of a billion people over the next year… Covid-19 also risks undermining decades of progress against epidemics that kill millions of people every year: AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” the companies noted in the letter which was signed by The Coca-Cola Company’s CEO, James Quincey, along with the CEOs of Abbott, Cepheid, Johnson & Johnson, Mylan, Sanofi, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Vestergaard, Zenysis, Aegon-Transamerica, MTV Staying Alive Foundation, Novartis, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, UPS and ViiV Healthcare.
“Covid-19 has underscored the importance of multi-stakeholder interventions such as Project Last Mile in enabling countries to cope with the unimagined pressure on healthcare systems through improved logistics, communication effectiveness and access to hard-to-reach people at the last mile. It is crucial that the global community stands up to the responsibility to enable quick recovery and resilience-building for developing regions such as Africa. That is the only way we can all emerge stronger together from the unprecedented impact of this pandemic,” said Bruno Pietracci, President for Coca-Cola Africa and Middle East.
The company launched Project Last Mile in 2009 to scale strategic healthcare interventions in Africa. Working with local Coca-Cola teams, Project Last Mile has supported governments to build effective and resilient healthcare supply chains and systems, including cold chain maintenance for vaccines, adapting its scope to the needs in the 10 countries where the project has launched: Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, South Africa, Eswatini, Nigeria, Lesotho, Uganda and Ghana.