Fight against HIV and TB a priority

EASING THE DISEASE: Patients sitting at a TB clinic. Pic. Peter Mogaki. 10/03/2004. © Sowetan.
EASING THE DISEASE: Patients sitting at a TB clinic. Pic. Peter Mogaki. 10/03/2004. © Sowetan.

XSTRATA Coal SA (XCSA) is a mining company with 11 operations across South Africa's "Coal Belt" in Mpumalanga, the country's central mining area.

XSTRATA Coal SA (XCSA) is a mining company with 11 operations across South Africa's "Coal Belt" in Mpumalanga, the country's central mining area.

Like many companies that operate within the extraction sector, one of the company's vulnerabilities is the disease burden, specifically the spread of HIV and TB.

Mpumalanga is one of South Africa's worst-affected regions. Part of the vulnerability is due to its close proximity to SA's borders.

The large distances within the province also mean it can be difficult for those living in rural areas to access local health services. This puts pressure on the provincial health system, which is over-burdened and under-resourced.

The high presence of HIV in the country affects business through absenteeism and the loss of workers to Aids .

It also has a huge effect on society. Women are often widowed without any means of support and orphaned children end up heading families. All of these add up to the deprivation that leads to increasing poverty.

At Xstrata Coal SA the wellness of our workers is critical to the successful running of our mining operations. Many companies, including our own, have workplace programmes in place regarding care and treatment for employees.

We also recognise that our employees are part of a broader community and that workplace programmes alone will not contain the spread of infection.

As a key employer in the region, we also want to take part in a way that could make a difference and have a positive effect on local residents.

In 2006 we decided to take the learning from our workplace and formed a Public Private Mix aimed at alleviating the spread of HIV and TB in the communities where we operate. We wanted to apply the lessons learnt in the workplace to locals, and also add some innovative approaches to help ease the disease burden. This meant forming a PPM that differed from traditional public-private partnerships to align our work closely with the goals of the provincial government.

The PPM is aimed at improving the overall health infrastructure of the province as well as giving more people access to anti-retroviral treatment to enable them to lead a healthy life and to work.

It also had to be sustainable for the community and scalable through the "human scale" approach - an approach that addresses the needs of the community.

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