Helping fight COVID 19 through synergies and corporate social responsibility

It is envisaged that through corporate social responsibility the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) commits to complementing the Government’s efforts to fight COVID 19 pandemic. In this up-date we cover three programmes that ZOU members of staff are engaged in towards the mitigation of COVID-19 and its social effects.

  1. Counselling services

In its forth-coming partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) ZOU has offered to provide counselling services to, inter alia, those in quarantine waiting for testing, those in self- isolation due to the COVID-19 infection, and their affected relatives. Our Counsellors will also offer counselling services to victims of a social problem that has arisen from the lockdown that the Government has introduced, i.e. domestic and gender violence. Through its Counselling Department, ZOU has already submitted a list of licensed Counsellors to be included in the MoHCC database for counselling purposes. Counselling will be conducted via tele and video conferencing.

When asked to comment on the forth-coming programme, the ZOU Mashonaland West Campus Counselling Programme Coordinator, Ms Shupikai Zebron, said;

We have four (4) of our ZOU licensed Counsellors whose names have been submitted to the Ministry of Health and Child Care and very soon they will undergo the tele-counselling training. The Counsellors will conduct the counselling in the comfort of their homes including but not limited to, those infected by the disease, their affected relatives and friends. The names of the four (4) members seconded to the Ministry of Health and Child Care are Mr Itayi Samanyanga, Mr Offard Kanjanda, Mrs Shillah Rugonye and me. ZOU has ten (10) Counsellors who renewed their licenses and in addition to the four (4) mentioned above we have Dr Lilian Chaminuka, Mr Darlington Muza, Ms Florence Jura, Ms Alice Chititi, Mrs Janet Mahlatini and Mr Leslie Chiuswa.

Ms Zebron promised to give constant updates on this noble and innovative programme.

  1. Contributing to the Government’s Preparedness and Response plan

ZOU’s Department of Nursing has also been engaged by the Nursing Directorate of the MoHCC to scrutinize and to submit comments on the second version of the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) in the community and household which was developed by the IPC Pillar under the Government of Zimbabwe’s COVID 19 Preparedness and Response Plan. The guidelines are targeted at community members, particularly community health workers and caregivers. Asked by the ZOU Acting Director of Information and PR, Mr Stewart Mwandiwanza to comment on what the Nursing Department was doing to help fight COVID 19, Ms Miriam Chitura, Chairperson of the Health Sciences Department, said;

Indeed, we have shared the IPC document from the Nursing Directorate of the MoHCC with the ZOU Department of Nursing staff for scrutiny with a view to submit our contributions to the Directorate after a week. We received the document on the 24th of April 2020. It is also worth to note that we also helped formulate the ZOU COVID 19 strategy for use before, during and after lockdown period.

  1. Appeal for cash and in-kind support for the vulnerable

Efforts are underway at ZOU to raise cash and in kind (e.g. donating foodstuffs) to be donated to COVID 19 victims, their relatives and child headed families through the Department of Social Welfare. The ZOU Alumni (ZOUA) led by its Treasurer, Mr Coster Nkala, working hand in glove with Dr Lilian Chaminuka, the ZOU Alumni and Stakeholder Relations Unit Coordinator, are spearheading the programme.

Said Dr Chaminuka,

 Our resource mobilisation efforts commenced on the 17th of April 2020. Donations have been trickling in from the ZOU AA members since then. Our target is $20,000.00 which we intend for the University to hand over to the Department of Social Welfare, who will identify those who need it most, especially the child- headed families. As at 30 April 2020, we raised $2,600.00.

ZOU staff members voluntarily willing to assist fight COVID 19, for example, with cash or in kind will be engaged and appropriate arrangements to facilitate that will be put in place by the University.

The University is also planning to process 6 tonnes of maize produced at its Senga and Kadoma farms into mealie meal which will be packed in 10kgs ZOU branded packaging and will be donated to the vulnerable groups through appropriate channels.

Speaking to the Acting Director Information and PR, Mr Mwandiwanza, ZOU Registrar, Mr Alexander T. Kaseke said;

 The University is going to process maize (6 tonnes) from our Senga and Kadoma farms into mealie meal which will be donated to vulnerable groups especially those accommodated in orphanages. The mealie meal is going to be packaged in 10kgs which will be ZOU branded. Soon, we will communicate to all ZOU staff appealing for financial contributions towards the fight against COVID 19. Staff members are expected to voluntarily indicate how much they will contribute, and deductions will be made from the salaries of those who would have voluntarily expressed commitment to contribute towards this initiative.