Thursday, 19 May 2011

MALARIA: Private Sector: Many Roles, Many Benefits

Bill Brieger : 13 May 2011

The latest edition in the Roll Back Malaria Progress and Impact Series is “Business investing in malaria control: economic returns and a healthy workforce for Africa. “The report provides an overview of the direct and indirect economic costs of malaria and looks closely at activities by three businesses in Zambia to tackle the malaria problem.
These companies were “able to scale up malaria control quickly and have seen a rapid return on investment. Malaria-related spending at three company clinics in Zambia decreased by more than 75%, and a very conservative estimate showed that the companies gained an annualized rate of return of 28%.” These experiences provided “Strong models … for businesses to take leadership roles in controlling malaria, protecting their workers and their families, strengthening their businesses, and extending programmes into communities.”
In fact there are several different and complimentary business roles for participation in rolling back malaria as seen below …
Manufacturers of preventive and treatment commodities
Wholesalers and retailers of malaria prevention and treatment commodities
Private health service providers: Formal orthodox, Informal, Indigenous
Private companies and industries based in endemic areas that aim to prevent and treat malaria among their employees and surrounding communities
Private companies and industries that provide donations to or organize malaria programs whether they are based in endemic areas or not
Sales of non-malaria products with a proportion/donation to malaria programming, like PRODUCT RED
Private companies that donate to malaria programming through their Foundations
The RBM website that features the Progress and Impact Series on Business involvement provides 16 downloadable case studies on the different models outlined above. Several diverse examples follow:
The Azalaï Hotels Group in West Africa, an active participant in the United Against Malaria (UAM) campaign, implements programmes to protect its employees with nets and hotel guests against malaria.
The ExxonMobil Malaria Initiative protects employees, supports malaria research and enables NGOs to carry out innovative community malaria control efforts
The MTN telecommunications group uses its technology and communication platforms to educate communities through radio, television, SMS, billboards and fliers.
The Sumitomo Chemical Company not only produces long lasting insecticide-treated nets but has provided technical assistance toward the establishment of the A to Z Textile Mills, based in Arusha and Kisongo, Tanzania, to ensure locally produced net supplies.
Although not featured by RBM, AngloGold Ashanti in Ghana has maintained an indoor residual spraying from for all structures in Obuasi District for five years now. Cases of malaria illness have steadily reduced at the district hospital. This protects employees, their families and the wider community.
The impact of individual business efforts may affect a community or a region and vary widely from place to place. In order for greater impact to be felt, national malaria control programs need to identify all potential and actual business partners and bring them into national partnership forums so that collectively the private sector impact on malaria will be most strongly felt.

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