Red Stripe has joined national efforts to stop the spread of the Zika virus with a $1.5m donation to the Ministry of Health. The company’s managing director Ricardo Nuncio handed over the cheque to Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton at his New Kingston offices on Tuesday.
In hailing the beer company for its contribution, the minister said few companies realized the importance of getting involved in the fight against an epidemic like Zik V. “Too often, corporate entities don’t recognise the connection between business and health at all.” Dr. Tufton pointed to the Chikungunya outbreak in 2014, when Jamaican businesses were severely impacted by a significant decrease in productivity after many workers became ill. “Yes government should lead but companies and individuals have a responsibility as well, and taking personal responsibility is the first line of defence,” Dr. Tufton asserted.
“Too often, corporate entities don’t recognise the connection between business and health at all.”
The Red Stripe managing director also urged corporate Jamaica to do more to support the national effort to fight the virus. “We all have a responsibility to take action – as individuals, as members of the community and as business people. Each of us can do our part so that we can avoid the kind of scenario the country faced two years ago. So I encourage more of my colleagues in the private sector to partner with the Ministry of Health,” said Nuncio.
Zika is a virus transmitted by the aedes aegypti mosquito, the vector that carries the Chikungunya and Dengue viruses. It may also be transmitted through sexual intercourse. Local health officials say a little more than 1,300 suspected cases of the Zika virus have been reported, with only a fraction of those confirmed with lab tests. The World Health Organization anticipates that as much as 70% of the population may be infected by the virus over time.
Symptoms, which may be mild to severe, include headache, fever, rash and red eyes. Zika virus in pregnant women has been linked to microcephaly in babies, a condition that causes the head of newborns to be abnormally small.