MMG Limited is among five mining companies participating in the Extractive Industry Infectious Disease Risk Assessment Management (IDRAM) Initiative in the Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The IDRAM Initiative is part of the USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats Program, which aims to pre-empt or combat at their source, emerging infectious diseases of animal origin, that pose a threat to human health.
Approximately 75% of new human infectious diseases are believed to have emerged from animal reservoirs, and therefore present a risk to resource companies and surrounding communities in areas close to animal habitats.
USAID has funded extensive research into infectious diseases over the past five years.
Its partners, Ecology & Environment and FHI 360 have developed a toolkit that resource companies can use to examine vulnerabilities to zoonotic disease and consider mitigation measures to reduce the vulnerability.
The initiative is being supported by the Australia-Africa Mining Industry Group (AAMIG) which aims to provide advice and support to the Australian extractives sector companies operating in Africa.
AAMIG proposed field testing the toolkits in the Katanga Province, DRC with established mining companies as the region is susceptible to emerging infectious diseases and outbreaks.
The roll-out of the toolkit field testing scheduled for June of this year is also timely, given the recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, and underlines how relevant this work is to the extractive industry and its host communities.
The successful delivery of the IDRAM Initiative will enable companies to develop appropriate mitigation strategies with respect to emerging infectious diseases and disease outbreaks.
International SOS is coordinating the field work and providing the interface between the mining companies, the provincial health authorities, the University of Lubumbashi and the medical team.
This project is being led by the Centre for Global Health Security at Chatham House in London, managed by International SOS and funded by USAID.
Other mining companies involved include Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (Tenke Fungurume Mine), Tiger Resources (Kipoi Mine) and Mawson West (Dikulushi Mine).
Photo credit: UN Photo/Olivier Chassot