AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) is a distinct mining magnateand operates in all the continents of the world. The sustained integration of communities in its corporate social responsibilities is anchored on its value of making communities and societies better off for AGA having been there.
Social responsibility projects have recently beenarsenals used by corporate institutions to leap out to the people and communities where they operate.From services to construction corporate worlds, one intervention or the other is executed either as proactive or retroactive measure to ameliorate a problem. Thus, corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Ghana is seen in the areas of provision of hand outs, construction of social infrastructures amongst others. Defined by Holmes and Watts (2000) as the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families, as well as of the local community and society at large, the sustenance of these CSR projects are either ephemeral or not targeting the immediate beneficiaries.
Technical areas such as health has remainedelusive for many corporate organisations in Ghana as funds committed in CSR projects are usually very expensive and difficult to sustain.
AGA preoccupation of making communities in their operational areas better motivated it to intervene in the area of health as it rolled out its flagship programme-Malaria Control Programme.It is widely acknowledged that dehumanizing phenomena such as poverty and disease have deteriorated the life expectancy of citizens especially in the developing countries. Therefore, a unilateral effort alone cannot eradicate these phenomena. Concerted and coordinated efforts from international, national and local levels are seen as very imperative especially in fighting against the long –standing scourge of malaria. Described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity, health has been compromised by major diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and malaria. Therefore, the fight against malaria, a major disease burden in Africa and indeed Ghana must be fought in an integrated manner.
The WHO roll back malaria programme amongst other interventions has helped reduce malaria but the Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) concept has proved to be potent at least from its inception in Obuasi. The Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) has been acclaimed as the one of the strategies in combating the malaria burden in Ghana. It operates on the principle of depositing safe and required amount of residual insecticide to indoor surfaces on which malaria vector may rest. A social responsibility turned malaria programme has further catapulted AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) intointernational limelight as socially responsible.
A social responsibility turned health intervention has been embraced and given momentum by both international and national organisations. In its quest to protect its staff and communities in its operational areas from this cruel and scourging malaria, AGA initiated the IRS programme in 2005 with an initial amount of US$ 1.7 million. A remarkable feat was achieved when studies conducted in Obuasi saw a sustained reduction of about 76% in malaria cases. Thus, these feat partners such the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), Ministry of Health (MoH), Ghana Health Service (GHS) and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development expressed interest in collaborating with AGA especially in replicating it in other districtsin the country within a span of five (5) years. CurrentlyAGA is replicating the “Obuasi model” in its Western and Eastern African operational countries of Guinea, Mali and Tanzania. A trailblazer in social responsibility, the Global Fund upon series of assessment committed UDS$ 133million to AGA for a scale-up to about 40 districts in Ghanaby 2015. Currently, the programme is operating in 17 districts with 5 additional districts to be added by July 2013 in Ashanti, Central, Western, Upper West and East regions. A global partner in development interventions, AGA is helping achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) four, five and six; reducing infant mortality, reducing maternal mortality and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases respectively.
The debilitating effect of malaria cannot be grossed over as an infected person indirectly attracts other able and productive persons who will have to cater for him/her. The sick role model by Talcott Parsons proves right here. Every year about 500 million people are infected with malaria. Out of this number about 1 million of our beloved and cherished children are killed especially those under five and pregnant women and finally accounts for over 50% of all Out Patient Department (OPD) cases in all hospital attendance. As one of the approaches in tackling the malaria burden, IRS has been widely embraced in its pilot area of Obuasi in the Ashanti region of Ghana.
The impact of this noble initiative has been enormous as the programme’scatchment areas have always embraced it. The various district and regional health directorates, metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, traditional leaders amongst other use various fora to propagate the programme to their people.
Apart from its being a gold miningenclave, the malaria control programme feat has catapulted Obuasias a health tourist hub. Again, the successes of sustained reduction of malaria cases, readily employment for teaming youth in the programme’s catchment areas, robust partnerships with national and international institutions, amongst others cannot be overlooked.It should be noted that AGA through this intervention has employed and trained 750 spray operators in 2012, 1,400 in 2013 and the threshold will be increased to 3,000 by 2015
AGA malaria control (AGAMal) is not a utopian entity as the following are some of the challenges it faces:
- Chemical odour which acts as obstacle especially for first- contact clients because of its pungent smell. This has, however, been improved making the insecticide very friendly.
- Logistics-wise, vehicles for operations are inadequate, thus, making transportation of personnel to and from field extremely very difficult.
AGA’s passion to control malaria and its ‘together against malaria’ slogan is an ample demonstration of good corporate social responsibility that has gone beyond the shores of Ghana as a sole private entity to attract the international community’s attention.
The fight against the long scourge malaria disease is herculean but AGAMal will show the path as it pays to be socially responsible for community, nation and the world.
AGA MALARIA (AGAMAL) CONTROL LTD