Ten private sector companies have been rewarded for contributing to malaria control in the country at the maiden ‘Malaria Safe Awards and Recognition’ ceremony held in Takoradi in the Western Region.
At the ceremony, which also marked the official national launch of the award, the companies were rewarded for the diverse innovative ways in which they have contributed to malaria prevention among their employees and dependants, host communities and by way of their corporate social responsibility.
They are AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Gold Mine, Golden Star Resources Limited, Zeal Environmental Technologies, Benso Oil Palm Plantation and Norpalm Ghana Limited.
The rest are Gold Fields Ghana Limited, Ghana Rubber Estates Limited, Samartex, Eni Ghana Limited and Perseus Mining Ghana Limited.
Five of the companies received special ‘Malaria Safe’ awards for signing on to the ‘Private Sector Malaria Prevention’ (PSMP) project.
The PSMP project is supporting the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) to invigorate the private sector‘s contributions to malaria control through institutional sales of insecticide-treated bed nets and boosting mobilisation of domestic resources for malaria prevention through advocacy for increased private sector contributions.
It is being implemented by the Johns Hopkins University Centre for Communications Programmes and funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development.
The other five, who have not yet signed on to the PSMP project, were recognised for initiating and investing in malaria control initiatives.
At the function, the Chief of Party of the PSMP project, Mr Felix Nyanor-Fosu, said malaria prevention was an important element of economic development for malaria endemic countries, such as Ghana, because of the social and economic impacts of the disease.
He noted that the awards aimed at appreciating efforts of companies in contributing to malaria control in the country at large and specifically improving its bottom line.
Mr Nyanor-Fosu expressed the hope that the awards would inspire and motivate other companies to do even more to prevent malaria and its economic effects on employee absenteeism, increased health care spending and decreased productivity.
The acting Programme Manager of the NMCP, Dr Kezia Malm, said eliminating malaria demanded a collaborative effort by all sectors.
She indicated that the awards were in line with the NMCP’s goal of mobilising resources locally to support the national programme.
Dr Malm noted that the private sector was a key stakeholder in the fight against malaria as the sector employed over 90 per cent of the working population in the country.
“Therefore if we can get the private sector to lead or support by making their workforce malaria free, then it means we have won the battle for a huge proportion of the Ghanaian population and that is significant, said Dr Malm
She said the NMCP was happy to support the efforts of the private sector in malaria control and was, therefore, prepared to provide guidance regarding appropriate malaria control policies and interventions the companies would choose to implement.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Western Regional Minister, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, said malaria control efforts were a proven return on investment.
Citing the example of AngloGold Ashanti, he said “with its malaria prevention programme, the company significantly reduced lost days due to malaria and cost of malaria-related medications as a result of its malaria control programme.”
He congratulated the award-winning companies on their efforts towards a malaria-free country and urged all companies to adopt malaria safety practices, especially the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets to workers and communities.
The Vice-Chairman of the Ghana Malaria Foundation,Mrs Elizabeth Joyce Villars, who chaired the awards ceremony, encouraged private sector institutions to take malaria prevention seriously.