This is a pivotal and exciting time in the fight against malaria, one of the greatest threats to global health and economic welfare. Recent advances in treatment and prevention combined with aggressive goals for 2015 create new optimism that malaria deaths can be brought to near zero.
Today’s biggest challenges include drug and insecticide resistance and an uncertainty in malaria funding. Continued progress will need resources, effective implementation of existing prevention and control measures, diagnostics and treatment as well as support for R&D to develop new tools.
To not lose ground, it is especially important at this pivotal juncture that everyone keep up the momentum. Business action is a critical pillar in the worldwide fight against an epidemic that claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year.
Why GBCHealth Focuses on Malaria
Preventable and curable, malaria is an obvious target for business response because of the disease’s huge impact on workforces and their families in areas of high prevalence. Malaria spikes absenteeism, decreases productivity and escalates benefits costs when workers become sick or die. There’s a direct and evident business rationale to prevent and manage malaria with the economic benefits of investing in malaria efforts well established. Marathon Oil, for example, reports a 4 to 1 financial return on investment in its malaria efforts.
Malaria attracts corporate investment in community programs because prevention works best when transmission is interrupted in the whole area. Malaria programs are well-suited to co-investment because governments and companies can partner to extend the reach and cost-effectiveness of prevention and control programs.
How GBCHealth Companies Make a Difference
GBCHealth member companies’ contributions span the full-spectrum of public health interventions, including the distribution of life-saving bed nets, treatment for families and pregnant women and the development of new diagnostic tools, medicines and more sophisticated mosquito nets.
A wide range of companies in high-burden areas, including many mining companies, have mounted Indoor Residual Spraying programs in the homes of entire communities. Businesses have tapped their marketing expertise to raise awareness around preventing malaria. One such program is a major outreach campaign launched by the restaurant chain, Nando’s, reaching both employees and customers with malaria prevention messages.
Other corporate actions include Standard Bank’s training of recipients that receive grants from the Global Fund; engagement in collective actions such as NetsforLife and NightWatch, a nightly broadcast message in Africa to remind people to sleep under their nets; and vocal advocacy in the malaria fight. Exxon Mobil has raised both cash and popular awareness of malaria among U.S. TV audiences through its sponsorship of Idol Gives Back; and has donated about $14 million through the program for the distribution of hundreds of thousands of bed nets in Angola. High-tech companies also are playing a leading role, using mobile devices to prevent drug stockouts, ferret out counterfeit medicines and to track malaria outbreaks faster.
Rarely are these efforts made in isolation. GBCHealth members frequently engage in partnerships with governments, multilaterals and on-the-ground NGOs to save more lives than ever before. In Ghana, for example, mining company AngloGold Ashanti’s workplace and community malaria program is so successful that it is extending into large parts of the country with the help of a grant from The Global Fund.
Read about award-winning malaria programs: