Globally, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria are major causes of communicable disease–related mortality and disability.
While the link between TB and HIV/AIDS is well known, recent evidence suggests that there is a strong association among all three diseases, with people infected with HIV being more susceptible to malaria and with malaria increasing the concentration of HIV in the blood by up to sevenfold.
Combined, therefore, the impact of these three diseases can be severe. In the context of the significant exposure of the mining and metals industry to HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, and in light of the association between these three diseases, the International Council on Mining and Metals has developed good practice guidance on the management of the three diseases within the workplace and the communities where its members operate.
Specifically, this guidance seeks to improve competencies to manage the three diseases at an operational level and to encourage an integrated approach to addressing the impact of the diseases.
How to use the guidance
The guidance should be used as a practical and accessible tool in the management of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria throughout the lifecycle of a project.
It is designed to enable a project’s staff (eg mine managers) to ask the right questions in order to guide effective health interventions and to seek appropriate technical expertise where necessary.
Impact of mining on the spread of disease
The mining industry can play a key role in tackling these three diseases. However, mining can result in significant in-migration to the project area, with the resultant development of informal housing and/or overcrowding (key factors in the spread of TB); exposure of workers to dust that contains silica (in the case of TB); an increase in working-age single men and commercial sex workers and associated risk of HIV infection; and a marked increase of breeding places for malaria vectors as a result of increased human activities and environmental disruption.
The business case for managing the three diseases
Responsible companies recognise that their activities have the potential to impact on the health of the communities in which they operate and vice versa and that they have an obligation to manage the potential impacts effectively. Employee and community health care programmes are therefore often prominent in corporate social investment portfolios of progressive companies. However, while also being the right thing to do, a proactive approach to the management of these diseases can have a direct positive impact on the financial performance of the company.
Significant quantitative and qualitative data suggest that companies working to address HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in the workplace experience a variety of direct and indirect bottom-line benefits through preventive and treatment measures.
While addressing these diseases in the workplace secures key business benefits, there are also strong arguments for widening the net of health care to include the communities surrounding mining projects.
Programmes should thus aim to address the three diseases both internally, thus protecting the workforce, and externally, managing the disease in the communities that are the source of labour or are affected by the project.
Download our guidance for more information.