Chevron's business interests and community interests are linked, so our efforts to fight disease benefit all.
Chevron Nigeria Ltd. reaches out each day to people in Nigeria's bustling cities and small towns to improve health through workplace and community-based HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis programs. While combating disease, we encounter prevailing myths and misconceptions, a social fabric that leaves women and children especially vulnerable, and a geography that makes it difficult to reach people.
"We believe we can make a difference through our health programs, that we can save lives and give back hope," said Femi Odumabo, Policy, Government and Public Affairs general manager for Chevron Nigeria Ltd.
Many of the programs Chevron Nigeria Ltd. supports are part of our global strategies to help combat disease. In Nigeria, Chevron's partnerships and programs target employees, contractors, suppliers and communities. We work together with local leaders, governments and nongovernmental organizations, youth groups, congregations, shopkeepers, and others active in the diverse communities of Nigeria.
A fundamental element to operating successfully is a healthy workforce. "The threat of HIV/AIDS to our employees is inseparable from the threat it presents to communities around our operations. Taking a lead position in the fight against AIDS is the right thing to do, and it is good business," said Andrew Fawthrop, chairman and managing director of Chevron's Nigeria and mid-Africa operations.
Information, Creating Hope
As medical protocols for HIV/AIDS have evolved, communication, education and access remain hurdles. "While many people in urban centers are informed, you still meet people in rural areas who don't know anything about the disease," said Dr. Chinwe Okala, a Chevron public health physician. Reducing the stigma associated with the HIV infection is important to battling it, according to Okala. "A few months ago," she said, "a colleague said he had overcome his fears and had an HIV test. He tested positive, but in the same breath added that he wasn't worried because he knew he and his family would be fine, thanks to the training on HIV he'd received from us. When I saw his smile, I knew in his case we had made progress."
Reaching Women and Children
In Africa, HIV/AIDS disproportionally affects women, increasing the risk of mother-to-child transmission. Most of the 57,000 babies born HIV-positive in Nigeria each year become infected by their mothers. Through our investment in a Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria grant in Nigeria, we have helped 50,213 HIV-infected pregnant women receive a complete course of antiretroviral treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission. And to empower women who have HIV/AIDS, we provide microcredit to help them develop employment opportunities.
We partner with the National Agency for the Control of AIDS to deliver a workplace wellness program to small and medium-size businesses in Lagos. One of these organizations is the Lady Mechanics Foundation, an auto-repair training program that empowers young women. Along with learning a skill, the women learn about disease prevention and treatment. Peer educators, including employee volunteers from Chevron, provide disease-awareness training to the staff, who in turn help educate the community.
Efforts include distributing mosquito nets to fight malaria. During a visit to Ejigbo (a Lagos suburb) to demonstrate net installation, Chevron and Lady Mechanics volunteers visited a mother in her home. "Today she is showing others how to install the net, and this is creating a multiplier effect in awareness and good health care practices," said Sunday Okegbemiro, Chevron Corporate Responsibility coordinator. "Knowing that these relatively inexpensive nets could very well save someone's life is remarkable and unforgettable."
Different Roads to Treatment
The Chevron-sponsored Riverboat Clinic, now a decade old, has become crucial in delivering primary health care and disease intervention to thousands of people in 33 towns along the Escravos and Benin rivers in the Niger Delta. The floating clinic carries doctors and nurses, who bring medicines and perform surgeries. Services include prevention education, malaria programs for pregnant women and children under 5, and free immunizations for approximately 1,000 women and children yearly.
We annually give $1.5 million for the boat and medical supplies, and the Delta State government provides the medical staff. Without the riverboat docked in these communities, the nearest facility would be a hospital more than 62 miles (100 km) away, accessible only through serpentine delta creeks.
Education: A Disease-Fighting Investment
To address Nigeria's need for skilled health professionals, we and our Agbami deepwater partners created the merit-based Agbami Medical Professionals Scholarship. Over the past two years, Chevron gave $5 million to students of medicine, dentistry, nursing and laboratory sciences from the Delta, Ondo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Lagos, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Abia, Cross River and Edo states. The deepwater partners also spent $6 million to build and equip 20 laboratories across Nigeria, in institutions from grammar schools to universities.
Updated: May 2011