AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Gold Mines launched an anti-malaria campaign last year, working with the Ghana Health Service. They are aiming to reduce the cases of malaria in mines by 75 percent by the year 2020. According to AngloGold Ashanti, malaria is an epidemic in Ghana and it puts the population of 29 million at risk every year. Malaria is the number one reason for hospital visits in Ghana.
In 2016 39 percent of outpatient cases in hospitals were suspected malaria, which is about 10 million visits. Approximately one-third of outpatient visits by pregnant women were also suspected of malaria, and about four percent of deaths were attributed to malaria.
According to Jasper Musadaidzwa, the Managing Director of AngloGold Ashanti Gold Mines, the eventual goal is to “end malaria for good in our communities.”
In only a single year, Musadaidzwa says there have already been significant improvements. At the Sam Jonah hospital, malaria has gone from 18.4 percent to 4.8 percent, which is about 70 percent of mine employees. In the Iduapriem Sub Municipal, which has about 80 percent of the communities near mines, malaria cases have gone from 225 to 166, which represents about 66 percent.
AngloGold Ashanti provided bed nets treated with insecticide to their employees and 16 mining communities and had the interior walls of homes treated with insecticide. In 2017 AngloGold Ashanti had distributed 12,500 treated nets. The malaria carrying mosquitos were resistant to the already existing bed nets, so scientists had to add additional chemical treatments that shorten mosquitos lives and prevent them from reproducing. The combination of chemicals kills even more mosquitos and greatly decreased bug bites overall; scientists do not believe it likely for mosquitos to develop a resistance to this new combination.
AngloGold Ashanti is cautious about spraying the homes of people who are sensitive to insecticide if someone has asthma or allergies they do not spray that room. The spraying also had the added benefit to the communities that it created approximately 3,800 new jobs.
“Malaria used to be a very serious situation in this community,” says Nana Ewaitemaa Adam II, community leader of the settlement of Adansi-Odumase. “Children were dying. Adults were dying. But now they come to spray, and the incidence has gone down. I don’t remember the last time I had malaria.”
Last year, AngloGold Ashanti won the John Hopkins Award at the Private Sector Malaria Program (PSMP) Safe Awards for their work in reducing malaria. “The award will encourage the mine to do more in eradicating malaria from our host communities and Ghana at large,” Musadaidzwa said. “At AngloGold Ashanti, the fight against the disease is not only in our host communities but the bigger Tarkwa community. This recognition will spur us on to put in better measures to sustain our gains in that regard.”