FQM SUPPORTS THE FIGHT TO COMBAT HIV

The mining company works with six health pillars, focusing on the workplace and the community

KALUMBILA, ZAMBIA – Kalumbila Minerals is working tirelessly in the prevention of HIV to mitigate the potential negative impact of the disease on the surrounding communities. This is evident in the consistent programming of long-term education and prevention programmes and immediate clinical care – thanks in part to the mining firm’s determination to find the right balance between immediate clinical care and longer-term education and prevention.

The mining firm has an HIV screening programme both for the community and for its employees, and offers voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) to both the community and employees. In 2017, the company reached over 50,000 individuals with information on HIV prevention, and 22,000 took up HIV VCT.

HIV-positive cases are referred for treatment within their respective communities. First Quantum Minerals, under a join initiative with the Ministry of Health, provides the logistics for distribution of ARVs provided by the government. Distribution is supported through a mobile primary care support unit sponsored by First Quantum.

“These services started way back in 2011. And we have been consistent in our screening, since the main objective is to prevent, ensuring anyone we find positive is treated so that we reduce the incidence. And we have had an overwhelming response from the employees even when we run workplace health screening services,” said FQM’s health promotion, monitoring and evaluation officer, Ian Silwimba.

Mr Silwimba explained that FQM’s HIV programme has been the launch pad for all its other health programmes, and it shows that a consistent and aggressive approach to programming bears positive results, as can be seen at Kalumbila, where the programme has been running for more than seven years.

“The main objective of the workplace health screening awareness that we are carrying out is to maintain a healthy workforce, and we do this with the aim of preventing diseases through awareness and also offering screening as well as treatment. So, we want to prevent the diseases before they occur,” explained Mr Silwimba.

Through its Trident Foundation health programme, FQM focusses on six health pillars, for the workplace and the community, covering HIV/AIDS, malaria, water hygiene and sanitation, non-communicable diseases, health systems strengthening and girl/child empowerment initiatives.

In the 2016-2017 fiscal year, FQM’s total annual expenditure on health-related programmes in Zambia was US$12.5 million, and 80 percent of that money was allocated to the delivery of clinical and community-based health services, with the balance going to prevention and education programmes.

A responsible company supports the health and well-being of its employees and the communities where it operates. And as peak malaria season approaches, First Quantum Minerals (FQM) through its public-private partnership, is bridging gaps in the national malaria programme, inspiring communities to practise better malaria management and encouraging other private enterprises to lend a hand.

The mining group has taken a two-pronged approach to malaria, ensuring people are tested and treated, while also working on prevention measures to reduce the incidence of mosquitoes that carry malaria.