Joint initiative on Marburg epidemic

July 7, 2005, 15:15 CEST

Yesterday Hydro signed an agreement with the World Health Organisation (WHO), together with ten other oil companies operating in Angola. The companies are to contribute 425,000 USD to strengthening the organisations aid work in connection with the Marburg epidemic.

Gustav Saastad, portfolio manager of Hydro’s Angola business area, took the initiative for the support scheme.

Work on getting the agreement in place started in April this year after WHO published information about the Marburg epidemic, which has claimed 355 lives in the province of Uíge in north-western Angola.

“This is a serious situation and we regarded it as extremely important to contribute to stopping the spread of the epidemic. We got in touch with other oil companies and got a positive response.” Saastad is delighted with the result. ”Hydro could have contributed alone, but as a group we can achieve so much more.”

The agreement was signed at Hydro’s office in Luanda, and Angola’s health minister was present during the signing ceremony. Journalists from the newspaper Journal de Angola and the national television company covered the event.

Welcome support
”This agreement clearly shows a new form of cooperation between WHO and the oil companies. The objective is to fight epidemics, strengthen the capacity of national health staff, and reduce poverty, as part of the objectives for this millennium,” said WHO’s representative in Angola, Dr. Fatoumata B. T. Diallo in a press release.

She also points out that the agreement fills a serious gap in Angola with regard to lack of competence and materials for systematic development of programmes, with a view to early identification of and rapid reaction to epidemics arising in the country.

According to the agreement, the WHO will assist Angolan authorities in establishing provincial epidemic monitoring. For their part, the ten oil companies will contribute with financial grants to strengthen initiatives against the Marburg virus and introduce other epidemic controls.

The ten oil companies operating in Angola that have signed the agreement with the WHO are: BP Angola (Block 18) BV, Cabinda Gulf Oil Company, Ltd, Esso Exploration Angola Block 15, Norsk Hydro Angola AS, Petrobras International Braspetro BV, Statoil Angola Block 17 AS, Total E&P Angola, Devon Angola Corporation, ENI Angola Production BV and CNR Ranger (Angola) Limited.