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Malaria Adversely Affects Over 70 Percent of African Business

A new study says over 70 percent of African business are adversely affected by malaria, with nearly 40 percent reporting serious consequences. The report – Business and Malaria: A Neglected Threat – was released Thursday by the Global Health Initiative of the World Economic Forum. VOA’s Joe De Capua has details.

The new report says malaria is crippling the people of Africa and the businesses that employ them. David Kim heads the Africa malaria programs for the World Economic Forum.

“Over 80 percent of the malaria incidences and burden are taking place in sub-Saharan Africa. And, by far, the burden in terms of death and morbidity is taking place in Africa. Currently, the estimates are that just every 30 seconds an African baby is dying of malaria,” he says.

Kim says the disease strikes many employees in the continent’s important industries.

“Well, we found that there’s a huge impact of malaria on businesses, especially in those industries where malaria is really prevalent. So, in particular, the oil industries, agri-business, mining, some travel and tourism. The impact is huge,” he says.

The World Economic Forum report is being called the largest, most comprehensive ever on the effects of malaria on business.

Kim says, “It includes, for example, absenteeism related to employees who are sick from malaria, their children who are sick from malaria. People who are getting malaria are also becoming anemic and therefore much less productive at work. Companies that will typically bring in ex-patriot workers are finding that they are having to ship them back out for medical evacuations when they develop severe malaria.”

The World Economic Forum study estimates malaria costs sub-Saharan Africa point-six percent (0.6%)of its GDP or Gross Domestic Product. The GDP is the total value of the goods and services produced by a nation. The study says one malaria episode can cost up to 10 working days of lost labor.

David Kim says the World Economic Forum is issuing guidelines for businesses on how to deal with the disease. Because many governments lack the resources to prevent and treat malaria, a greater emphasis is being placed on the private sector. The Forum is also working with the Rollback Malaria Partnership, which includes over 90 members such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF, ngos and many governments.