Anglo Gold Ashanti (AGA) is a global gold mining company and the world’s third largest gold producer. Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, the company has 17 mines in 10 countries and explorations in several other countries
In 2004, the company identified malaria as the biggest public health threat to its operations in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2005, the Mine Hospital recorded over 6,800 malaria cases each month out of which 2,500 were mine workers. An average of 3 days taken off work per patient meant 7,500 man shifts lost per month. Also, slow work rate during recuperation resulted in a major loss in productivity. Costs of malaria medication for treatment of AGA employees was over US$55,000 annually.
In view of this a comprehensive malaria control programme was launched in 2005 to address this menace which was impacting productivity on the mine. The initial objective was to reduce the burden of malaria in Obuasi by 50% within the first two years of IRS operations.
The programme involved prevention using Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), insecticide treated nets, larval source reduction and environmental management.
Diagnosis & treatment, surveillance and intensive community sensitisation were also deployed alongside the IRS in order to increase impact.
Malaria also affected school and work attendance within the Obuasi Municipality.
Within two years of program implementation, malaria cases recorded at the Mine Hospital had reduced by 74%, exceeding the initial goal of 50% set at inception.
AngloGold Ashanti invested an average of US$1.5 million into the programme annually and to date, has seen over 90% reduction in work absenteeism due to malaria. The success of this programme has led to its replication at other AngloGold Ashanti mine sites in Mali, Guinea and Tanzania.
In 2008, AngloGold Ashanti receives Global Fund (GF) grant of $133 million to scale up IRS from one district to 40 districts in partnership with MOH/NMCP. Between 2012 and 2014, the AngloGold Ashanti Malaria program had scaled IRS in the country from one district in the Obuasi Municipality to 25 operational districts (3 other districts in the Ashanti Region, 1 in the central region, 3 in the western region, 1 in the northern region, 8 in the upper west and east regions each).
In 2014, the NMCP undertook a country reprioritization of interventions and this resulted in IRS being deployed in areas where there was a malaria prevalence rate of above 50% (MICS, 2011). This meant that IRS was going to be deployed only in the upper west which had a malaria prevalence of 51% and a resultant withdrawal from the 17 other operational districts. However, Obuasi was still maintained as malaria control was an initiative of AngloGold Ashanti as part of its corporate social responsibility. The Global Fund also reduced IRS funding to $15.5 million under the New Funding Model for 2015 – 2016 operational season.
In 2016, the International Vector Control Consortium (IVCC) with funding from Unitaid, sought to expand the use of new insecticides under the Next Generation Indoor Residual Spraying (NgenIRS) initiative. The initiative will use a copayment from Unitaid to bring down the price of these new and more effective product in the short term. This initiative enabled the GF funded IRS program to make savings on insecticide purchases and resultantly utilize the savings to expand into three districts in the Upper East region (Builsa North and South and Kassena Nanakana West).
The program continues to be a life-saver and beneficiaries are extremely excited about the IRS initiative. Preliminary data from sentinel sites are indicative of some modest gains with respect to malaria morbidity in implementing districts.
The Program has enjoyed tremendous support and recognition from the communities, local government, Ministry of Health and the National Malaria Control Program till date. There are collaborations and partnership initiatives with reputable research institutions to strengthen the Monitoring and Evaluation component of the grant.