SA companies tackle malaria

2010-04-23 17:02

ompaniesJohannesburg – South African companies are becoming more interested in malaria prevention campaigns because of employee absenteeism, a Unite Against Malaria (UAM) spokesperson said on Friday.

"We've seen a tremendous surge of support from the South African corporate sector, said Christina Barrineau.

"While malaria doesn't profoundly affect South Africa, corporate companies with a large Pan-African footprint are being indirectly affected through their employees and their families with the disease," she said.

MTN, Standard Bank and Nandos had joined UAM in a campaign to fight the disease.

Standard Bank said malaria cost it R45m a year because of employees in African countries who were affected by the disease.

"We have branches in 17 African countries and 10 000 staff, so malaria is a critical issue for the bank," said spokesperson Tony van der Nest.

"In Uganda and Nigeria, most of the absentee claims revolve around malaria," he said.

MTN employees are also hard hit by the disease.

Absenteeism affects productivity

"(About) 25 to 35% of absenteeism across the continent is due to malaria, which then effects productivity," said MTN spokesperson Tsepho Ramodibe.

Nandos, Standard Bank and MTN on Friday announced their plan to sell bead bracelets at R25 each in an effort to educate and create awareness about malaria.

Nandos spokesperson Chris Thorpe said $1 from the sale of each bracelet would go the Global Fund to help fight the disease.

"This is the first time that Africa will be giving back to the Global Fund," he said.

Proceeds from the sale of the bracelets will also go towards mosquito nets and medicine to countries with high levels of malaria, he said.

Malaria costs Africa at least R12bn in lost productivity every year.

UAM and their partners plan to piggyback on the FIFA World Cup in an effort to educate 11 African countries about the deadly disease, which is responsible for nearly one million deaths each year.

World Malaria Day is on Sunday April 25.