Oleg Deripaska and Rusal’s Public-private partnership Ebola response
Charity is an important cause for Rusal Chairman Oleg Deripaska. In 1998, he founded Volnoe Deloe, a foundation which supports a wide range of initiatives centred around education and science. Over the last 18 years, this charity has helped create change in areas as diverse as museums, theatres, orphanages and sports facilities.
Oleg Deripaska himself personally funds these charity initiatives. Since 1998, he has invested in excess of 10.6 billion roubles in more than 500 charity programs in 50 regions of Russia. Small wonder then, that in 2013, Forbes recognised Oleg Deripaska as one of one of Russia’s most generous givers to charity. In 2013-15, Bloomberg ranked him among the top Russian philanthropists. In 2016, his work was once again recognised when Russian President Vladimir Putin decorated Oleg Deripaska “For Beneficence” in recognition of his dedication to charity.
Another of his passions is science. A physicist by trade, Oleg Deripaska is a strong believer in the potential of science and research to change all lives for the better. In 2014, nature posed a major challenge for the global community in the form of the deadly virus Ebola.
In what was the most significant Ebola outbreak since it was first detected in 1976, 28,616 people were registered as having been infected with the virus. Of those infected with Ebola, 11,310 people died. Inevitably, the impact of the virus went beyond the personal and into the political, as Ebola’s tentacles tightened their grip on food security, economic capacity and the development of the private sector.
Troubled by Ebola’s destruction of both lives and economies in some of the poorest countries on earth, Oleg Deripaska set about identifying how he and Rusal could become part of the Ebola response.
Oleg Deripaska and Rusal in Guinea
Rusal was already working very closely with one of the countries hit hardest by the Ebola epidemic, Guinea, where it is one of the country’s largest private sector investors and a key player in the bauxite and alumina industries.
Ebola was causing havoc in the country. In 2014, President Alpha Condé declared a state of emergency after the epidemic killed 377 people and attempts to halt the spread of the virus were hampered by poor infrastructure and undeveloped health systems.
Spotting an opportunity for Rusal to make a difference, Oleg Deripaska personally initiated theconstruction of the $10 million Centre for Epidemic and Microbiological Research and Treatment (CEMRT) in the former Soviet-Guinean Institute Pasteur located in the Kindia province in Guinea. In doing this, Oleg Deripaska’s Rusal was the world’s first public company to initiate a major project aimed at halting the spread of the Ebola virus.
Built in just 50 days under Oleg Deripaska’s supervision, the centre was designed and constructed by Rusal specialists with the assistance of Rospotrebnadzor (the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing) scientists using up-to date Russian engineering and medical equipment and in line with the recommendations of international aid experts. Parallel to this, Oleg Deripaska and Rusal also coordinated the delivery of medication to Guinea and ensured that the centre was fully staffed with medical specialists. Ebola control measures were also implemented at both its sites in Guinea and at the residence of employees.
The facility initiated by Oleg Deripaska and created by Rusal boasts an infection hospital, a provisional hospital, a mobile laboratory and a blood and plasma transfusion department with a laboratory. The facility is unrivalled in West Africa for its application of advanced technologies and system of biosecurity. In recognition of its significance, was commissioned as a medical institution of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Guinea and adopted as part of the Guinean national system of preventing the spread of Ebola.
Oleg Deripaska and Rusal envisioned that the centre would act as the control room of the war on Ebola in Guinea and was instrumental in helping to turn the tide against the epidemic. Those treated at the centre experienced the best survival rates of those afflicted with Ebola in the country; 62.5% of patients recovered.
The virus was contained and ultimately eliminated. In December 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Guinea free of Ebola virus after 42 days passed since the last Ebola patient tested negative.
Exporting Oleg Deripaska’s Ebola response model to the world
As well as working on the front-line of the battle against Ebola, Oleg Deripaska and Rusal also participated on the world stage. In March 2015, Rusal convened a high-level working group in Brussels including several key players such as Anna Popova, the Head of Rospotrebnadzor, and President Conde of the Republic of Guinea in order to agree a joint programme to fight the further spread of the Ebola in West Africa. And in May 2016, it hosted a roundtable in Geneva in the presence of Margaret Chan, former WHO Director General, in which it was agreed between the Guinean and Russian governments that the Russian vaccine Evak-Kombi
would be employed in the country as a way to mitigate the risk of any further outbreak of Ebola.
In June 2016, in St Petersburg, Oleg’s Deripaska’s Rusal organised a roundtable discussion attended by representatives of WHO, Médecins Sans Frontières, World Humanitarian Summit and the Global Health Investment Fund which focussed on “The economic impact of epidemics: a case study of public-private partnership in the fight against Ebola”
While the crisis may have passed – at least for now – Ebola is not the first epidemic to pose a major health threat to the world, and nor will it be the last. CEMRT will remain at the forefront of the prevention and treatment of communicable diseases, providing specialist diagnostics, treatment and prevention – helping those suffering now, and preventing suffering in the future.
Discussing Rusal’s work in the fight against Ebola, Oleg Deripaska commented: “I strongly believe that sustainable business operating globally should be well prepared to address any challenges, and epidemic is not an exception. I am proud that Rusal is the only public company which realized such an important large-scale project to stop Ebola virus in Guinea”.