Enterprises and the healthcare front
By Son Nguyen
|A medical worker prepares AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine for injection – PHOTO: VNA|
For enterprises, protecting the people's health does not look like their mandate, but hundreds of local businesses have rolled up their sleeves for the common cause in the midst of the raging Covid-19 pandemic. Aware of their corporate social responsibility, enterprises across the country have opened their coffers, pouring out hundreds of billions of Vietnamese dong to finance the national vaccination drive.
Just three weeks ago, the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee of HCMC organized a function to receive donations from enterprises for the city's program to buy vaccines for fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, and the enthusiasm from enterprises amazed many attendees.
"As of April 23 this year, the city had received more than VND200 billion from 31 organizations and individuals," said To Thi Bich Chau, head of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee of HCMC, at the function. That is not to mention donations in kind worth nearly VND70 billion contributed to the city's vaccination drive.
At the event, Hung Thinh Corporation donated a huge sum of VND50 billion to buy vaccines. Nguyen Nam Hien, deputy general director of Hung Thinh Corporation, noted that the corporation has responded to the call from the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee of HCMC, contributing VND50 billion for HCMC and other localities to buy vaccines. "Apart from this donation, we will continue to support other activities of HCMC and the country to fight the Covid-19 pandemic," he promised.
In fact, this huge donation is just a part of the corporation's CSR program to support the community in tough times. When the pandemic surfaced last year, Hung Thinh already donated nearly VND50 billion in cash and in kind, including Covid-19 diagnosis machines, portable X-ray machines, protective gears for medical personnel, and other essential items for frontline workers.
Numerous other enterprises in the country have since early this year also given big bugs for the vaccination program.
On February 25, An Phat Holdings handed over VND20 billion to help the northern province of Hai Duong acquire vaccines for the local people who were then struggling with the third wave of Covid-19 outbreaks. Pham Van Tuan, a senior executive of An Phat Holdings, remarked that the company wished to join forces with the provincial government and other entities to quickly contain outbreaks. Earlier that same month, An Phat Holdings had already donated VND10 billion plus medical supplies worth VND3.5 billion to the provincial government to help with the fight against Covid-19.
In similar gestures, Thaiholdings and LienVietPostBank on February 5 donated a combined VND21 billion to the Ministry of Health to acquire Covid-19 vaccines. Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long, speaking at the donation ceremony, highly regarded the generosity of the two companies, stressing "access to Covid-19 vaccines is a top priority of the healthcare sector."
The minister also reckoned the development of domestic vaccine candidates, saying initial but encouraging results have been achieved. Nanogen has surpassed the first-stage clinical trial and is ready for the second-stage trial, said the minister, referring to the local vaccine candidate. Meanwhile, two other locally-developed candidates by IVAX and VABIOTEC have yielded highly-prospective pre-clinical results.
The development of local Covid-19 vaccines has also earned strong support from local enterprises. Besides giving financial support to buy vaccines, the multi-sector business corporation Vingroup on February 27 handed VND20 billion to the Ministry of Health to support the clinical trial of Covivac vaccine by IVAX. This support, said Minister Long at the donation ceremony, would help speed up the clinical trial of the local vaccine candidate, helping the country launch a Made-in-Vietnam Covid-19 vaccine in the coming time.
According to the health ministry's website, Vingroup is a strong pioneer in backing the fight against Covid-19. Last year, the group provided over VND1,270 billion, or more than US$50 million, to fund activities against the pandemic, including manufacturing ventilators, acquiring medical machines, and financing projects to respond to Covid-19 outbreaks.
The list of donors for the fight against Covid-19 has been extending over the past year since the pandemic hit the country. These include Nestle Vietnam and Lavie – the latter being a member of Nestle Group – donating nearly VND40 billion, and Vietcombank giving VND4.2 billion to Hai Duong Province to buy a Covid-19 diagnosis machine, among others.
Vaccines for own workers
Before giving their helping hand to the community, many enterprises have earlier pledged to protect their own workers by seeking approval from health authorities to vaccinate their employees against Covid-19.
Kim Oanh Group, for example, in early March unveiled its plan to acquire over 5,000 vaccine doses for its employees and their relatives who will be given the shot all free of charge upon approval from the health ministry, according to Tuoi Tre. Hung Thinh Corporation has also announced its plan to buy over 14,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines for all its staff and their familities. This similar move has also been announced by other enterprises, including Dat Xanh, An Gia, Hi-Kool Vietnam, and Gotec Land among others.
Nguyen Dinh Trung, chairman of Hung Thinh, said the corporation as well as many other enterprises are willing to finance inoculation against Covid-19 for all their employees and their relatives. "Such a move is not only a necessary response to protect the workforce as the most valuable asset of enterprises, but also a corporate responsibility to share the burden with the State, the community and the entire society," Trung was quoted in Giadinh.net. He furthered that with vaccines as a shield, the war against Covid-19 will certainly come to success.
In a recent meeting, Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long rallied the participation of the business community in the vaccination drive, saying their support would help the country realize the program to safeguard all the people from the pandemic. According to the ministry, Vietnam needs to import some 150 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines this year, which will require huge financial resources and exert great pressure on the State budget.
Although protecting the people's health is not a mandate of the business community, their active participation, either via direct donations to the relevant State agencies or through vaccination plans for their own workers, is also a great contribution to the common cause of the nation to ward off the pandemic for the good of the economy and the community. Such contribution is all the more urgent now that the fourth wave of Covid-19 has attacked the country, with hundreds of infections confirmed each day, which requires not only efforts by State agencies, healthcare authorities and other frontline workers, but also the participation of enterprises. To some extent, enterprises joining the drive can also be considered as frontline forces.
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