Together with our members, we support the sharing of best practice and maximisation of company efforts to address communicable diseases, maternal and perinatal conditions and nutritional deficiencies, and curb the impact of non-communicable diseases.
To date, this work has promoted:
- communicable disease control initiatives in Africa and Asia that have targeted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria among employees, their families and local communities
- primary healthcare programmes with third parties when government health systems are insufficient
- health interventions implemented with local government to assist marginalised communities, usually in remote areas of developing countries
Communicable and other forms of disease
Mining companies operate globally and often work with or near a wide range of communities in challenging settings. Communicable diseases, nutritional deficiencies and maternal and perinatal complications are common to less developed areas where poverty and poor access to health services are commonplace. For more information see our page on communicable diseases.
Nutritional deficiencies lead to stunting, wasting and micronutrient deficiencies, while key maternal and perinatal conditions include haemorrhaging, infection, eclampsia, anaemia and low birth-weight.
Mining companies also need to be aware of non-communicable diseases that can affect the health of local communities and employees. Such diseases include diabetes, cancer, lung disease and cardiovascular disease which are often linked to lifestyle, diet, alcohol, tobacco use and physical inactivity. Such diseases used to be most common in North America, Europe and Australasia, but are increasingly significant in developing countries, as disposable incomes rise and lifestyle changes affect diet and levels of physical activity.
Direct and indirect benefits of community healthcare
Community health programmes have the potential to benefit both the company and the community in direct and indirect ways. While the business imperative might include gains from an improved licence to operate, there are usually many positive indirect benefits to the community, such as improving education through the improved health and well-being of children.
The health vulnerabilities of communities living around mining sites can be significant as they are often located in remote areas of developing countries with only limited access to pre-existing health care infrastructure available. Before implementing community health projects, there is a need for interventions to be designed to add value, which requires sensitive planning. By employing tools such as health impact assessments and health-needs assessments companies are able to maximise the benefits they can offer to community healthcare.
Signs of progress
ICMM members have made significant progress in addressing community health issues. This includes a diverse range of initiatives that range from global micronutrient deficiency and regional maternal and child health programmes to highly focused communicable disease control initiatives in and around mine sites, as well as multiple projects focused on the specific health needs of marginalised, remote communities.
However, it should be recognised that addressing community health will always be a major undertaking as disease patterns change and health needs of diverse and developing communities evolve. As a consequence, community health initiatives need to build on lessons learned from field experience to sustain health impacts.
This combined with efforts to strengthen good governance at the local government level and engage with affected communities will only further increase the success of community health initiatives.