• Ford's donation of R2.5 million will help enhance the OHSS.
• The program is run by the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH) to assist in mitigating the transmission of Covid-19 and other diseases.
• The donation expands Ford's commitment to South Africa during the pandemic, which included financial and vehicle support for numerous non-profit organisations.
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Ford South Africa has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting the national government's Covid-19 initiatives by donating R2.5 million to help fund enhancing the National Occupational Health Surveillance System (OHSS) - a program implemented by the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH).
The OHSS monitors workers in the public and private sectors, using data supplied by employers on Covid-19 infections in the workplace under the Department of Employment and Labour direction. The data helps identify industries and occupational groups at risk of infection and analyses the impact on industries and occupational groups. The data is used to inform appropriate interventions - including policies, programs or resources - to mitigate the disease's spread.
Experts from the NIOH - a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, a public entity of the National Department of Health (NDoH) - have led the country on Covid-19 workplace guidelines, procedures, surveillance online training and education, as well as research. The team has produced various educational and awareness materials to cater for all categories of employers and employees. While the current focus is primarily on Covid-19, the OHSS has been developed to monitor all occupational diseases.
Comment on the investment
Neale Hill, MD of Ford South Africa, says: "The Covid-19 pandemic hit the people of South Africa extremely hard, whether directly through suffering the effects of the disease or losing loved ones, and by virtue of the long-term economic fallout and resulting job losses. During this global health crisis, it became abundantly clear that we need a coordinated, data-driven and strategic approach to understanding and handling the pandemic and targeting specific areas of concern.
"Therefore, helping fund the NIOH surveillance system with the R2.5 million donation is the logical next step in our commitment to partnering with national government as it rolls out this project to ensure that the country is better equipped and resourced to manage this health crisis, and any others that may follow."
Dr Spo Kgalamono, executive director of the NIOH, acknowledged Ford's donation as a valuable contribution to support the crucial work being done.
She says: "We are extremely touched by this generous donation from Ford, and thank you for the support in this war against Covid-19. The OHSS project is a huge task considering its national scale and potential workplace coverage with greater than 50 workers. It requires a dedicated and experienced team, human and physical resources, technological advances and expertise, and training and awareness to meet the system's requirements.
"Ford's contribution has truly helped the NIOH and South Africa immensely. Currently, the developed system is a pilot programme, the first of its kind in South Africa, that gathers occupational health intelligence to ultimately protect workers' health. This donation will assist the institute by improving and maintaining the hardware; upgrading and further development of operating systems and data visualisation; as well as the development and provision of data links with the employers in the formal sector."
Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic hit South Africa in March 2020, Ford has played an important role in assisting and empowering its employees and suppliers, the National Department of Health, and several non-profit organisations across the country. The donation towards the OHSS further bolsters the company's efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Ford's Covid-19 Employee Donation Match Program, initiated by the Ford Motor Company Fund, contributed more than R17 million to help community organisations in their relief efforts in 20 countries - with Gift of the Givers receiving funds to distribute food and cleaning supplies to low-income South Africans. Additionally, the organisation used the grant to establish screening tents at more than 180 hospitals and clinics across the country, and distributed 120 000 food parcels.