Anglogold Ashanti has initiated a move to combat malaria in the Wassa West District to positively impact on the health of mine employees and members of the host communities.
The prevalence rate in the district is one of the highest, at 30 percent of the population.
Mr. David Kwesi Renner, Managing Director of Anglogold Ashanti Iduapriem Mine (AAIL) disclosed this during a meeting with stakeholders, including the sister mines in the district, the Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Health and the Wassa West District Assembly.
It was aimed at finding a lasting solution to the high prevalence of malaria in the area.
He said at the last Chamber of Mines' meeting, it was decided amongst members that the successful “roll back malaria” programme at Obuasi should be replicated across the various catchment areas of mining operations.
Mr. Renner said this would go a long way to help reduce the number of malaria cases reported at the various clinics of mining companies and the Wassa West District as a whole.
This, he said, would have a positive impact on the health of the workforce which would in turn increase productivity.
Professor Richard Hunt, a consultant in Medical Entomology of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa, has been contracted by the Mine to carry out the survey from which recommendations would be made for the appropriate strategy to eradicate malaria from the district.
Professor Hunt has extensive experience in malaria control programmes in various sub-Saharan countries and was the brain behind similar surveys that have been carried out recently at Anglogold Ashanti's operations in Obuasi and Mali and Newmont's Ghana operations.
Professor Hunt said malaria cannot only be considered as a local problem but a global one which needs a multi-sectoral approach to combat it.
He explained that the survey requires firstly, identifying the species of mosquitoes that are prevalent in the area after which samples of the different species are taken for study.
Prof. Hunt said the outcome of the study would then drive the recommendations for the most suitable insecticides to use in addition to other physical methods such as clearing of nearby vegetation and draining of stagnant water bodies.
He said the earlier attempts to “roll back malaria” without a scientific approach had not been successful, however “residual spraying” of insecticides in houses in South Africa and elsewhere have worked very well because the method was targeted directly at the mosquitoes that try to feed on people.
Contributing, Dr. Jack Galley of the Ministry of Health said that he would welcome any programme with a scientific basis towards the reduction, if not eradication of the high prevalent rate of the disease in the district and would be happy to supply information needed to support the programme.