Strategically Addressing Malaria in the Workplace

‘‘ Investing in Malaria control programme/interventions pays off for companies and their employee’’

Malaria is a common life threatening disease in many tropical and Sub-tropical regions.  It is correctly endemic in over 100 countries, which were visited by more than 130 million international travelers every year.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over three billion people are at risk of malaria infection making the disease a major health challenge.  It is not an understatement that malaria constitutes high burden disease in Africa, Nigeria inclusive taking a high toll in regions hard hit by HIV and AIDS as the disease increases HIV viral load.

In endemic countries, the disease is responsible for decrease productivity, employee absenteeism, increased medical cost just to mention a few. However, malaria infection in the workplace can have a wider impact on the local/national economy as the overall labour force is weakened by sickness which has direct bearing on productivity and investment.

With an estimated US $3.6 billion funding gap slowing down, the progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria, the organized private sector has an important role to play in bridging the gap through developing actionable workplace interventions and drugs.

The economic burden of malaria in Nigeria is substantial. In the Nigeria Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Country Consultative Mission Final Report, it was noted that every year the nation loses over N132 billion due to absenteeism from school, work or other business and the direct cost of malaria treatment. Thus malaria is seen as both a cause and consequence of underdevelopment.

Suffice to say that addressing malaria through the workplace can:

  • Address risks to human resources and assets/capital.
  • Enable market opportunities.
  • Enhance tangible assets such as corporate morale, reputation and goodwill…(www.forum.org)