Following the success of integrated malaria control measures at Obuasi, AngloGold Ashanti will be the principal recipient of a grant of up to $133m to Ghana from the Global fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), to roll out the model developed at Obuasi to 40 districts in Ghana. In implementing the programme, AngloGold Ashanti will continue to work collaboratively with public health sector partners, which has to date been one of the principal success factors of the programme.
AngloGold Ashanti decided in 2005 to implement an integrated malaria programme in Obuasi, one that would not only cover mine housing and infrastructure but also private housing and buildings in Obuasi town and in villages within the Obuasi Municipal district. The cost of the programme was $1.7m in the first year and $1.3m per year thereafter. The aim was to reduce the incidence of malaria by 50% in two years.
In addition to benefiting employees, their families and communities, the reduction of malaria in the community and mine made good economic sense and the lessons learnt were used to initiate similar projects in our other operations.
Steve Knowles, the AngloGold Ashanti malaria programme director says: “A malaria control programme is the best example of a sustainable corporate social responsibility programme for a company operating in a malaria endemic area; a win/win for company and community. You only have to superimpose a map of our global operations over the world malaria map to see the need for an overall group malaria strategy”.
At Obuasi the programme has not only reduced the burden of malaria in the community, increased school attendance and won the gratitude of the community, but has also reduced absenteeism at the mine, increased productivity and reduced the cost of malaria medication to employees and dependents.
“At corporate level it has a return on investment and has the backing of the shareholders,” says Steve. “With the national grant we will be able to use the reservoir of expertise gathered for not only for the community but for the benefit of all the people of Ghana”.
Prior to implementation of the programme in 2005, malaria accounted for 22% of all deaths in the community. The municipality hospital and clinics saw as many as 12,009 cases per month. The mine hospital saw on average 6,800 malaria patients per month out of a total workforce of 8,000 and the cost of medication for treatment to the company was over $55,000 per month.
Since 2005, there has been a 75% decrease in cases seen by the mine hospital. Medication costs have been reduced to $9,800 per month. Lost days due to malaria have been reduced from 6,983 per month in 2005 to only 282 in 2009.
The programme is a partnership with the Ghana Health Service, the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) and the local Obuasi Municipal Assembly, acting with the approval of the Ministry of Health. A private sector malaria control programme would be impossible without the support and consent of the National Government and the NMCP. The programme had the approval of the Ministry of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency. It also had to be aligned closely to Ghana’s National Malaria Plan.
These partnerships will be continued into the Global Fund Programme with the addition of a country coordinating structure and the local agent of the Global Fund. AngloGold Ashanti will be the principal recipient of the funding. It is the first time that a private sector company has been appointed as the principal recipient of a GFATM grant in Africa and only the second globally.
Consistent reduction in malaria at Obuasi The group’s integrated malaria control programme, developed at Obuasi, has continued to achieve good results, with a consistent decrease year-on-year in the incidence of malaria. The total number of cases reported at the mine’s Edwin Cade hospital (which serves employees and dependants) decreased from 6,603 cases per month in 2005 to 1,146 cases per month in 2009.