“Do you have to do your shopping?”, a voice says over the phone in a message sent via WhatsApp. “First, try to limit the times you go out for the market or the store. The ideal would be to go out once a week, not every day. To go out, you must wear a facemask”, continues the audio shared to workers, associates, and their families by the organization BANELINO.
At least three times a week, the organization sends messages in Spanish and Creole in a communication chain to prevent COVID-19 contagion, explained Rosalba Gómez Jaquez, Banelino´s Fairtrade official. These messages are accompanied by visits from five health promoters from the organization who follow up on patients with chronic diseases, delivering their medicines and also giving them information about the coronavirus, its symptoms, and how to avoid contagion.
“At Banelino we understand that in populations with little resources and deficiencies in health services, coronavirus prevention is key to save lives. The house to house visit has been very effective, because it allows a more personalized service, mostly for people with low educational levels that have no access to information, migrant families that do not speak the language and the elderly”, said Marike de Peña, Banelino´s director and president of CLAC´s Banana Network.
For more than 15 years, the Fairtrade banana producer organization has had a preventive health program, that serves more than 12,000 patients per year and which includes informative talks, medical consultations, dental services, vaccination programs, and follow-up to patients with HIV, uterine cancer, hypertension, diabetes, as well as the delivery of medications.
In the farms and packing plants, the information on the preventive measures for the COVID-19 has been reinforced with the placement of posters in Spanish and Creole, which have been prepared with the support of CLAC´s operational team. This is strengthened by training all associates and workers on safety protocols and monitoring compliance with them. In addition, Banelino has provided equipment for disinfecting footwear and work areas and distributes masks weekly to staff to ensure they are as safe as possible.
“The associates and workers of Banelino continue with their work in the field, since the banana harvest is weekly and mobilizes many people, which requires a prevention approach and investment in pandemics such as COVID-19. Banana is the livelihood of many families, but it still puts them at risk if we do not know and implement security measures,” said Marike de Peña.
“As an organization, we have withdrawn the elderly and people with health risks from production, while ensuring the payment of wages during the pandemic,” explained the director of Banelino, an organization certified Fairtrade since 2000, which currently has 300 associate producers and more than 2,000 workers in the Dominican Republic.