Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) has assembled and supplied 50 000 face shields for the US Department of Defence to shore up its response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Southern African region.
The face shields are being produced in a specially prepared and sanitised facility at Ford’s Silverton assembly plant in Pretoria.
FMCSA has produced over 258 000 face shields to date. This includes almost 140 000 units that Ford has already donated directly to the South African Department of Health’s centralised warehouse and distribution centre in Centurion, as well as direct donations to a variety of hospitals, clinics and humanitarian organisations.
The order for 50 000 face shields was facilitated by the US Embassy in Pretoria and funded by the US Africa Command humanitarian assistance programme. The face shields will be provided to the South African military health service members who are on the frontlines battling Covid-19 across the country.
They will also be supplied to Botswana, Namibia, eSwatini and Lesotho.
US Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks says Ford’s local production of these face shields is an example of an American company pivoting its mission and adjusting its value-add to make an effective and generous contribution to fighting this pandemic in South Africa.
All funds received are used to buy the face shield materials, with FMCSA sponsoring all of the labour costs for its employees involved in the assembly and packaging of the shields.
US Embassy economic counsellor Alan Tousignant says the donation by FMCSA underscores the value that the company brings to the people of South Africa. “This is in addition to the significant contributions it continues to make to the country’s economic development and prized reputation as an attractive destination for foreign direct investment.”
Ford government affairs for Africa executive director Dhiren Vanmali says that, as an American company with a heart in South Africa, FMCSA is proud to be playing a key role in the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic through producing and supplying the face shields to help protect medical and essential services personnel.
“As much as this crisis has had major economic and health implications for South Africa and the African continent as a whole, it has also seen extraordinary commitment from doctors, nurses and healthcare workers, along with numerous nonprofit organisations, companies and individuals, stepping up and going further to support and assist the most vulnerable citizens.”
The face shields project, which commenced at the beginning of April, has been led by FMCSA operations VP Ockert Berry. He says that the order from the US Department of Defence, through the US Embassy, has provided a valuable additional boost to FMCSA’s efforts to address the critical shortage of personal protective equipment during this crisis.
“All of our employees and suppliers involved in the project have demonstrated amazing dedication to the cause, even with the challenging restrictions imposed during the initial five-week lockdown,” he states.