Letter from the Chairman of the Board

A CONTINUING COMMITMENT TO BE PART OF THE SOLUTION FOR MeN

At Nicaragua Sugar Estates Limited (NSEL), owner of the Ingenio San Antonio (ISA), we work hard to ensure the health and safety of our workforce and take every question regarding working conditions at our sugar plantations very seriously. Mesoamerican Nephropathy (MeN) is affecting workers in different industries and countries in Central America and other parts of the world. Sadly, this disease is far from being a single-company or a single-country issue. In fact, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) has declared it a serious regional public health problem. Addressing it will require cooperation from multiple public and private sector institutions. We remain committed to doing our part.

As we look towards the future and working with interested parties on solutions, we must not lose sight of how far we have come. In keeping with our 125-year legacy of supporting the welfare of our employees, we have partnered with our former employees affected with MeN (ASOCHIVIDA), the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman of the World Bank Group, Boston University, the Baylor College of Medicine, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the German Development Bank, the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health, among others, and have contributed over US$8 million towards four key goals:

  • Finding the cause of MeN
  • Reducing the incidence of MeN among our workforce
  • Helping those who suffer from MeN to slow its progression and find alternative livelihoods
  • Finding treatment solutions for end-stage patients
  • Please see a detailed description of our efforts address MeN to date

We share the public’s concern about MeN and its continuing impact.
As a result, our unwavering commitment to be part of the solution continues to grow, and we are ready to take additional actions:

  • During the first quarter of 2016, we will create an Advisory Board comprised of independent scientists and public health specialists to help us stay informed of the latest scientific knowledge and best practices on this matter.
  • During the first quarter of 2016, we will engage a qualified independent external body to review our current practices and certify that the same policies and benefits apply for contracted and sub-contracted workers. We will plan to incorporate their recommendations for further improvements.
  • In the first half of 2016, we will organize a symposium to convene relevant experts and industry participants to encourage broader dialogue about latest research, best practices and possible solutions.

We believe that progress on this epidemic can only be made as a result of cooperation from all parties. We will continue to collaborate with ASOCHIVIDA, DEG, Boston University and other organizations to better understand and address MeN. We welcome conversations with all individuals or organizations that seek to engage in constructive, collaborative efforts to propose additional and feasible ways for us to address this serious health problem.

Read the full update here.

Javier J. Arguello
Chairman of the Board,
Nicaragua Sugar Estates Ltd.

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