Ubombo Sugar in Eswatini, a subsidiary of Illovo Sugar Africa, joined the rest of the World during the past week in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS on World Aids Day. Ubombo’s locally-arranged event was themed around commemorating the lives of fallen heroes and to underscore the Group’s underlying purpose which is to create thriving communities through our business activities in the many and diverse societies in which we operate. The day was attended by our own employees and many others from neighbouring companies, as well as range of other external stakeholders, including locally-based health authorities. In addition to a range of activities, such as fun-based games, a cycling race and a marathon open to everyone, the highlight of the day was a grand march led by the locally-based Salesian School band.
Speaking at the event, Ubombo Managing Director, Oswald Magwenzi, said that Ubombo Sugar’s commitment to World Aids Day was in direct alignment with the Group’s continuing and proactive approach towards life-threatening epidemics such as HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria - these were being managed, largely on a preventative basis, to negate their impact on the business and its employees and the communities in which we operated. He said achieving these objectives was contingent on the good support of Ubombo’s solid partnership with the Eswatini Ministry of Health in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Magwenzi said: “Ubombo Sugar is a company that is guided by a number of principles and values. The three that are relevant for today’s event are our purpose which is to create thriving communities through our business activities, to be a good neighbour and corporate citizen and to be welcomed in the communities in which we operate for what we do and how we do it.
Our commitment arises from the realisation that the ability of Ubombo Sugar to successfully achieve its objectives depends on the health and wellbeing of our employees. We remain committed to the national HIV and AIDS response, as we have done over the years – this, despite the current challenges confronting the sugar industry.
Mr Magwenzi said that during the past five years, the company had invested over E5 million (ZAR 5 million) in the health of its employees and that of the surrounding community. Improvements to the company-run hospital over the period included:
- Buying a digital X-ray machine, together with an audiometer and vision screener used for our ongoing occupational health activities;
- Theatre renovations including buying new anaesthetic machine and theatre operating table;
- Renovating a state-of-the-art laboratory for performing liver and kidney function tests; and
- Installing pharmacy inventory management and hospital billing software.
I am also happy to say that as a company we have agreed to allow nearby government clinics - Bholi, Lubulini and Ndzevane - to send patients to Ubombo Sugar Hospital for X-rays, as well as to test their TB samples.
Our efforts through our hospital continue to show results.
- Over 2 000 patients are registered in our HIV and AIDS Clinic.
- During the past year, no Mother-to-Child transmission of HIV was recorded for babies delivered at Ubombo Hospital;
- We have not recorded a single HIV-related death in the past year; and
- Our hospital was recently awarded the Trophy for the Best HIV Care and Treatment Facility in the country
We will continue to work together with the Ministry of Health to achieve the 95-95-95 UNAIDS Fast-Track Strategy to end AIDS – that being - 95% of people living with HIV know their status; 95% of people who know their status are on treatment; 95% of people on treatment have viral load suppression.