OPINION: Making the Case for Private Sector Engagement in the Fight Against Malaria
There is an increasing focus on how to leverage private sector expertise and resources to achieve greater social impact. Common tactics include stimulating a sense of corporate social responsibility and highlighting consumer demand for more socially aware companies. However, one strategy that must also be included is identifying opportunities where there is a strong business case to be made for private sector investments in social issues, such as malaria control and prevention.
Malaria impacts businesses in a variety ways, including lost productivity from employees taking time off when they or their family members are ill, as well as greater expenditure on healthcare programs to treat employees. The results, though, are the same: decreases in a business’ profits. The private sector is well aware of these costs. In a piece authored by Dr. Brian Brink, the former private sector delegate to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, he highlighted BHP Billiton’s plant in Mozambique. During the construction of their aluminum smelter, malaria cost the company $2.7 million.
This example is not unique. In fact, a recent study estimated that businesses in Ghana lost $6.58 million in 2014 to malaria. With malaria being endemic in many of the world’s fastest growing economies, the impact of the disease on businesses is real, measurable and cannot be ignored.
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