June 9, 2020

A Noble Endeavor

Noble Energy rig

“Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto” (“The health of the people should be the supreme law.”) - Marcus Tullius Cicero (b.106-d.43 BCE), De Legibus (“On The Laws”) (p.52 BCE)

Although in business time is money, in a public health crisis time means lives. Especially in a pandemic, any delays in response can result in increased death and loss of productivity. During times like these, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, preparedness and rapid response are the keys to saving lives and mitigating fiscal externalities.

Noble Energy is a global oil and gas company working in the West Central Africa region that has previously partnered with MCDI to address health issues such as malaria and cervical cancer in the population of Equatorial Guinea (EG). Given that West Central Africa region is one of the most vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19, Noble Energy saw its operations threatened by increasing case counts and travel restrictions. Therefore, in March 2020, it turned to MCDI to ensure the safety of its workforce against the emerging pandemic threat. MCDI rapidly leveraged its half-century of experience and expertise fighting infectious diseases around the world, including nearly two decades working to improve the health system of EG, to assist Noble Energy in its endeavor to protect its workforce and do no harm to the local population.

Our model for Noble Energy is what we call infection prevention and control. This strategy includes ensuring in-country critical care capabilities are in place to meet the needs of oil and gas sector workers who are at risk of contracting COVID-19.

To best protect the health of the workforce and keep projects running on-time, MCDI helps maintain a quarantine site for healthy workers traveling from out of country and an isolation site for Noble Energy employees either infected with COVID-19 or suspected to be infected with the virus. MCDI trains local staff at both sites in disinfection and proper waste disposal techniques, as well as ensures they have access to the right materials (e.g., telemedicine equipment, PPE, diagnostic supplies, medicines, disinfectant, etc.).

With technical support from MCDPH, we are providing technical and operational assistance to Noble Energy to introduce telehealth technologies as a means of reinforcing the standard of care that oil and gas sector workers receive while in quarantine or isolation.

This form of collaboration is new for Noble Energy, MCDI, and Equatorial Guinea. It demonstrates the value of private companies’ long-term investments in health infrastructure and the utility of the local partnerships that result from these investments. The novel Coronavirus pandemic poses several key questions for all of us, namely, how to chart a post-coronavirus world. Although we know it unprecedented, MCDI is confident in its collaborations with private enterprises like Noble Energy to create resilient health systems, ensure the health of the workforce, and expand the knowledge of the virus.

Matthew S. Lynch is the Assistant Communications Officer at Medical Care Development International (MCDI) Maryland, USA, office.

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