Malaria & Dengue Fever
Every year malaria accounts for 660,000 deaths worldwide, the majority of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa [Source: WHO, World Malaria Report 2012]. Everybody living in Mozambique is exposed to malaria, and it is Mozambique’s most important public health problem, accounting for 29% of all deaths [Source: President’s Malaria Initiative – Mozambique. Malaria Operational Plan FY2013]. More recently Dengue Fever has also appeared in Mozambique. The incidence of Dengue has grown dramatically around the world in recent decades. Over 2.5 billion people – over 40% of the world's population – are now at risk from dengue. WHO currently estimates there may be 50–100 million dengue infections and 12,000 deaths worldwide every year [Source: World Health Organization (2014). Dengue and Severe Dengue. Fact sheet No. 117]. Dengue fever is also transmitted by mosquitos, although this disease is transmitted during the day.
In addition to seriously impacting the lives of families and communities, malaria also has a negative impact on economies and their development by reducing productivity. For example: In a case study carried out at the Tucurui Dam in Brazil, increases in mosquito populations and incidents of malaria resulted in a 77% cost overrun due to construction delays [Source: World Commission on Dams, Nov. 2000].
There are a number of examples of companies who have taken the fight against malaria seriously, helping to reduce absenteeism and medical costs, improve productivity and build their reputations for social responsibility. Examples are:
In 2004, in the Ghanaian community of Obuasi, gold producer AngloGold Ashanti was seeing as many as 6,800 malaria patients per month at the company's hospital, out of a total workforce of 8000 people. AngloGold partnered with Ghana's National Malaria Control Programme, among others, to implement indoor residual spraying, distribution of bednets, and rapid diagnosis and treatment. By 2009, only 1100 patients were visiting the hospital each month and monthly malaria medication costs at the company had fallen from US $550,000 to US $9,800.
During the first two years aluminum smelter BHP Billiton was operating in Mozambique, the company reported 6,000 malaria cases, 300 medical evacuations, 13 fatalities, and incurred US $2.7 million in malaria costs while it was being built. The company partnered with the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative to help reduce malaria infections from 625 cases per 1000 population to fewer than 200 cases per 1000 in the Maputo Province of Mozambique. In addition to savings from absenteeism and health care costs averted, the initiative's success helped secure two grants totalling US $47 million from the Global Fund for regional control of malaria.
[Source: Roll Back Malaria Progress & Impact Series: Business Investing in Malaria Control: Economic Returns and a Healthy Workforce for Africa.]
A recent survey of the impact of malaria on businesses in Mozambique shows that 39.2% of surveyed companies suffer an increased risk of malaria cases among night shift workers [Source: INTERCAMPUS GFK - Malaria Consortium (2010) Brief analysis of the impact of malaria in the private sector: Quantitative Survey]. If your company has staff working overnight, why not do more to reduce their exposure to malaria by providing insect repellent clothing?
The role of malaria in absenteeism is also great. Disease was cited as the main reason for absenteeism in more than 80% of surveyed companies. Although companies often do not have a record the type of disease involved, a third of the companies surveyed reported that 80-100% of sickness absence is due to malaria.
In 60-70% of cases of absenteeism due to illness of family members, malaria is responsible. Often, it is female employees who have to have time off to look after ill family members. The free or subsidized distribution of an appropriate number of mosquito nets to employees could not only reduce your employees' exposure to malaria, but also help address absenteeism brought about by illness of family members.