News Column

Banks Strategise Against Ebola 'Spillover' On Workers, Investments

August 12, 2014

Chijioke Nelson



THERE were indications that the nation's deposit money banks have strategized against any case of ebola virus among its workforce as they interface with customers in the line of duty.

In a survey of banks' readiness in response to the outbreak of the disease in the country by The Guardian, the lenders showed concern for their workers as they have already put measures in place as a foil against transmission, including the reduction in handshakes.

The outbreak of the ebola virus in the country became an issue that has evoked fears and concerns, particularly for those interfacing with the public like banks' workers.

Already, the United Nations and the World Health Organisation have tagged the dreaded influenza "a global emergency", while awareness and preventive measures have been canvassed.

First Bank of Nigeria Limited said the emergence and likely implications of the ebola virus have been in the public domain, even as it has already strategized against the dreaded scourge.

It noted that its resident doctor has briefed the workers on the facts about the disease, which is the basis to avoiding its transmission, while it has also printed fliers and distributed to staffers.

A source from the bank also noted that workers are encouraged to visit in-house clinic for clarifications as more updates unfold, increase personal hygiene, use hand sanitizers, while the bulk tellers now use gloves.

"While we have emphasized less shaking of hands as part of the precautions, we are also cautious not to raise any feeling of isolation and suspicion. People we meet are our customers, which is the essence of our business, so we respect as well," the source said.

For Wema Bank Plc, an insider source said the development has already been discussed at its weekly "Knowledge Session", while precautionary notes have been explained to all.

"I think the basic thing is all about awareness. The other thing is keeping up with personal hygiene. Given the transmission mode, there should be a reduction in shaking of hands, but that should left for individuals to decide," the source said.

However, Fidelity Bank Plc, acknowledged that the threat posed by the outbreak of Ebola Virus has caused concern among customers and staffers of the bank, as the development has led to new measures being adopted by the lender.

According to the bank's in - house physician, Dr. Olukayode Williams, the steps taken are in three categories- first a major awareness campaign involving circulation of several care advisories to all the staffers and their families.

"There is presently lectures at weekly in house forum on the risk factors, as well as protective steps to be adopted. Distribution of the United States Department of State's advisory on the Ebola Virus, as well as special simple explanatory mails developed by the bank's in - house doctors.

"Secondly, the bank has already procured 10,000 hand sanitizers for distribution to staffers and urged all to also purchase same for the members of their household and key contacts, while toiletries' supply with our facilities has been upgraded to afford both convenience and greater protection at this time to users and cleaners alike.

"Thirdly, we are in the process of deploying infra-red hand sanitizers that can dispense up to 30,000 times each at all our locations and staff buses. The provision will also cover all visitors/customers at any of our locations." he said.

For Sterling Bank Plc, since the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus, it has instituted a daily communication strategy plan, where staffers are updated on developments on the virus.

According to the bank, it is to ensure that staffers and customers are aware of the deadly virus and part of the bank's effort to jointly control the spread of the virus and maintain healthy activities.

"There is the provision of hand sanitizer for use by staffers and customers, which are placed in visible locations such as the customer service points, banking halls, restrooms, bulk rooms, offices and at the entrance and exit routes nationwide.

"We also ensure the cleaners disinfect/sanitize every door handles, telephone mouthpieces, stair rails, desk and counter every hour and provide health tips as new developments unfold," it said.

Also, Skye Bank Plc, affirmed that it has taken the proactive step of educating its workforce on safety tips to observe, which include good personal hygiene, where to go and where not to go, need for regular hand wash, avoiding frequent handshake, at least for these uncertain periods.

"We have employed the various internal communication vehicles to advise our staff to always insist, whenever they visit the hospital, that their doctors wash hands before attending to them and use gloves, as well as ensure they use hand sanitizer always. For the moment, they avoid visiting infected people," it added.

Enterprise Bank Limited said before the awareness for the deadly Ebola Virus disease heightened in the country, it had already mounted a campaign to sensitise and educate its staff and by extension, family members, on the sad development.

In a statement from the Corporate Communications Group of the bank, the lender on a regular basis has researched materials on the origin, symptoms, method of spread, management, as well as preventive measures, with illustrations sent out to staffers.

These are also encouraged to extend the information to customers of the bank by pasting them at conspicuous positions in the branches where customers would have access to them.

The bank has circulated the help lines (phone numbers) provided by the Lagos State Ministry of Health, installed hand sanitisers in strategic positions at the branches and offices across its network, taken the campaign to its social media platforms so that other stakeholders of the bank will become aware.


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Source: AllAfrica


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