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  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.

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    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.
     

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The sustainability agenda

The Obuasi community in the Ashanti region will have something to smile about long after AngloGold Ashanti Company Limited ceases its mining activity and pulls out of the area.

The long period of association and the desire of the mining firm to give something back to the community created a bond which is believed to have inspired the sustainability development strategy of AngloGold Ashanti.

This strategy, conceived several years ago, goes beyond the corporate social responsibility programme in malaria control which began in 2004.

According to Mr. Fredrick Attakumah, Managing Director of AngloGold Ashanti, the idea is about saving lives through this sustainability drive which has driven the company to roll-out various projects over the years.

“Our values have been a catalyst for transformation of our society and the malaria space gave us room to operate,” he noted.

Strategic decision
Until he assumed the position of managing director, Mr. Attakumah was the Vice-President of the sustainability development strategy of the company.

He said the plan is about developing other industries, so that life can still go on when the mining activity is over, adding that the Obuasi mines have for several decades invested in various infrastructure and development programmes to give meaning to the sustainability agenda.

“These can be seen in the construction of an airport in Obuasi, complete with a runway and a modern terminal, a mining hospital, which contributes to the delivery of health care in the Ashanti region. It also includes a Junior High School for 1,000 pupils, a commercial guest house and the Len Clay stadium.”

Ghanaians love football and the clubs in the local premier league have a good fan base. In Obuasi a win by AshGold, the football team owned by the mining company, easily translates into massive jubilation.

Incidentally, after a season of drought, the Obuasi-based club put in a lot of hard work to win the 2014/2015 First Capital Plus Premier League, which saw high-profile footballs teams, such as Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak, narrowly surviving relegation to the First Division League.

Mr Attakumah said AngloGold keeps reviewing its strategy and development on sustaining the town “by diversifying as it goes along.”

He said mining is a depletive industry, since gold deposits do not last forever. However the company is committed to ensuring that Obuasi does not become a ghost town, when they fold up. The company's sustainability development strategy is on course to make sure the town does not turn into a ghost town when the mining industry is no more.

For years, the mining activities of the company served as the life and soul of Obuasi and surrounding communities. A short visit to the town is enough to see how almost every activity is linked to mining. The large estates, offices, property and infrastructure owned by the company in the area, indicate the influence of the mining company in the town.

“We are looking at encouraging local entrepreneurship by providing support for local businesses. It is work in progress to create more job opportunities,” he said.

He said AngloGold is value-driven and they define their success by their community and believe in a win-win deal.

Pleasant surprise
Mr. Attakumah shared some thoughts on the malaria project, and said the effects of malaria on their workforce and the community was low productivity.

He said based on the drive for maintaining their corporate social values, when they decided to set up a malaria control programme the idea was not to limit the exercise to their mining facilities.

They saw it as an opportunity to extend the project to all inhabitants of the Obuasi municipality and five other districts. It ran as an integrated programme with indoor residual spraying and larviciding.

According to Mr.Attakumah, the “pleasant surprise” was that in two years they had about 75% reduction of malaria cases out of the thousands of cases that were earlier being recorded.

He said currently there are only few cases being recorded, about a 100, adding that there is empirical evidence to show this at the children's wards of the mines hospital, which are empty, during peak rainfall seasons, when malaria transmission is high.

He said before 2006, the rainy season saw children sleeping on the floor in the wards, due to over-stretched bed facilities.

However, today the story is different ecause of their success with the malaria control programme.

Mr. Attakumah said they are very committed to their social responsibility as a mining company because although they do not have mining concessions in some of the regions, they still went ahead to roll out their malaria control interventions in five regions including the Central and Upper East regions.

He said their subsidiary company, AGAMal, runs their malaria control programme in line with the strategy of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) and, therefore in 2014, when the NMCP decided the indoor residual spraying could only be allowed in districts with over 40% malaria prevalence rates, they had to pull out of some regions and confine operations to the Ashanti and Upper West regions, with a grant from the Global Fund.

He however said AngloGold Ashanti, still supports AGAMal with a million-dollar investment yearly for the Obuasi programme.

According to Mr.Attakumah, following the success of the malaria control programme in the Obuasi area, they have seen a significant increase in school attendance in the municipality perhaps due to the cuts in malaria-related absenteeism and this is reflected in results from the Basic Education Certificate Examination, which has been very encouraging.

Community intervention
He explained that as part of their sustainability agenda, in 2012, they established community trust funds in the two areas where they operate - Tarkwa and Obuasi - to help their host communities.

The Obuasi community got $2.5 million seed money to roll out various community intervention projects and Tarkwa got $1.5 million.

He said the trust funds are making important contributions to the lives of these communities. In Obuasi, for instance, the funds provided eight fully air-conditioned Toyota buses to some public senior high schools.

On the educational front, 110 computers have gone to some Junior High Schools. Additionally, teachers' quarters, school blocks and classrooms have been constructed for some of the communities.

By Eunice Menka

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