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Working to eradicate malaria in the DRC and Zambia

Author: | Date: 23/04/2018

About 90% of global deaths from malaria occur in Africa, according to the WHO. Ahead of World Malaria Day on Wednesday 25 April, we explain how we’re working to prevent and treat the disease.

Malaria is a disease with severe socio-economic impacts on communities – and according to the UN, it’s Africa that bears the brunt. 

Despite huge progress in reducing malaria mortality, about 90% of global malaria deaths still occur in the continent, says the World Health Organization (WHO). One of the most vulnerable groups are children under five.

And it’s not only mortality that harms communities: people suffering from malaria, or caring for those with the disease, can’t go to school or work – which can contribute to household poverty.

But as the WHO points out, malaria is preventable. Measures such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets or indoor residual spraying can reduce the spread of the disease.

At Glencore, we are taking measures to prevent malaria in communities near our mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia. Here is how. 

88%

reduction in cases of malaria in the DRC between 2015 and 2017

115,000

people protected through our anti-malaria spraying campaign in DRC

Democratic Republic of Congo

The DRC is one of the world’s most malaria-affected countries – responsible for 10% of all cases of the disease in 2016, according to the WHO. 

The country has seen sharp falls in malaria incidence rate between 2010–15. But in Kolwezi, the town nearest our Katanga mine, malaria incidence rose between 2012–15.

This led our teams at our Katanga and Mutanda operations to look again at their malaria control programme – with the goal of reducing the impact of malaria not only in our workforce, but in local communities. 

Our work helped to significantly reducing the number of malaria cases – and the burden on the community. In 2015, there were 449.26 cases per 1,000 people in Kolwezi. By 2017, this had fallen to 54.62 cases. 

Steps we took included:

Indoor residual spraying

We sprayed over 12,000 houses in and around Katanga in 2016, giving protection to more than 80,000 people. And in 2017 we extended the programme to include Mutanda, spraying around 20,000 houses and providing protection to more than 115,000 people. 

Insecticide-treated nets

Insecticide treated nets are available for at-risk groups, which include pregnant women and children under five years.

Larvae control

In 2017, we put in place larvae control measures – focusing on stagnant water both on-site and in surrounding communities. 

Education and research

We held malaria awareness sessions in 2017, within which both the community and employees took part. We also supported studies as part of the indoor residual spraying programme. 
 

208,332

people protected through our anti-malaria spraying campaign in Zambia

95%

reduction in new cases of malaria in Zambia between 2000 and 2017

Zambia

Zambia has fewer malaria cases and deaths than the DRC – but a concerning trend, according to the WHO, is that the estimated number of malaria cases was on the rise in the early part of this decade. 

Our Mopani copper mine runs a malaria programme in the local community, which includes prevention activities, tackling mosquito breeding grounds, and treating infected people. In fact, our work in the DRC is based on our learning from our malaria programmes in Zambia.

In 2017, for example, we targeted around 40,000 homes in the communities of Kitwe and Mufulira with indoor residual spraying – giving protection to 208,332 people

Measures have also included working to control the flow of water in wetlands where mosquitoes breed.

Results have been impressive. In 2000, the incidence rate was 216 people per 1000 people. The latest figures are now 9.74 per 1000 people, suggesting that over the long term, targeted malaria control works.