Responding effectively to the HIV/Aids and tuberculosis epidemics is a challenge for companies such as gold producer AngloGold Ashanti for business and moral reasons.
The burden of both diseases in the local mining industry is high. Similarly, the high incidence of malaria in the company’s Africa operations calls for effective interventions.
In order to mitigate and manage the health risks faced, AngloGold implemented healthcare programmes through its subsidiary, AngloGold Ashanti Health.
Says Dr Brian Chicksen, head of health services for AngloGold Ashanti: ‘We have a series of values and business principles that we aspire to live up to. One of these is that we be responsive to the healthcare threats we face in the regions in which we have a presence.
‘In South Africa, HIV/Aids is a clear threat that has an impact on us as a business and on the communities in which we operate. Communities ought to be better off for us having been there.”
The impressive progress made in curbing the spread of dreaded diseases is borne out by statistics.
‘Our 2006 data shows the CD4 count at the start of treatment was 166. But over two years we have increased the mean CD4 count of people on the programme to 373.”
The company is also looking at halving the death rate of its employees over a four-year period, which began in 2004.
‘With regards to TB control, we pledged to meet or beat the World Health Organisation and national TB control programme outcomes and we have consistently done that.”
Malaria statistics are also encouraging. In Obuasi, Ghana, there were 7 000 malaria cases a month in 2005. The control programme was implemented in April last year and, by December, this figure was reduced to 2 500.