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Malaria prevention in Republic of Congo Forestry Concession

Through collaboration with key partners, the Republic of Congo and PharmAccess, 29,000 people received healthcare treatment during 2013, with a particular focus on malaria.

Objective

Olam subsidiary Congolaise Industrielle des Bois (CIB) manages timber concessions in one of the most remote parts of the Republic of Congo. Our forest management concessions cover about 1.4 million hectares, each obtained under long-term lease agreements and managed according to the highest standards of Sustainable Forest Management.

Within this tropical climate malaria is a daily risk for communities. Without treatment, the disease can be fatal with diverse symptoms ranging from fever, muscular pains, vomiting and diarrhoea, anaemia, convulsions and coma.
Ensuring easy access to healthcare for the CIB staff and the local communities was therefore crucial.

Approach

To tackle an absence of professional healthcare facilities near the timber concessions, Olam partnered the Government of the Republic of Congo and PharmAccess (a Dutch medical NGO), to develop and run a CIB hospital in Pokola, and two further health centres in Kabo and Loundoungou. These serve nearly 900 CIB staff, their families and a diverse range of communities within the forest, including semi-nomadic Pygmy groups.

The hospital has 42 hospital beds and together with the two satellite health centres provides diagnosis and treatment for malaria, as well as pregnancy consultations and contraceptive advice, vaccinations, an HIV prevention and treatment programme, radiology, ultrasound, surgery, dental care and ophthalmologic care, all on a daily basis. Free mosquito nets were distributed among the community for malaria prevention and during antenatal visits, pregnant women receive free mosquito nets and medicine that helps prevent contracting the disease during pregnancy.

Local semi-nomadic and settled Pygmy groups have traditionally lacked access to professional healthcare, and have difficulty in reaching the CIB hospital. These forest people are supported by the Fondation Frédérique Glannaz pour l’Assistance des Bambenzelé (FFAB) which covers their transport and hospital costs, and provides free school places for Pygmy children in Pokola and Kabo.

The Biso na Biso community radio station, established by CIB in with financial support of the World Bank Development Marketplace and the Fondation Chirac, supports the healthcare programmes for malaria and HIV prevention through local-language broadcasts which raise awareness and facilitate knowledge sharing among widely dispersed forest people in the Congo Basin.

In addition to the hospital and clinics, Olam CIB has invested in local infrastructure for community development and wellbeing that includes modern housing with electricity, clean drinking water, schools, a library, sports fields and a television and radio station.

Results

The CIB hospital and health centres received nearly 29,000 patients in 2013, of whom more than 8,000 were diagnosed with malaria and treated by health workers. The prevalence of malaria is currently stable in the region, and CIB’s malaria prevention programmes are being expanded further this year to include giving children are a free mosquito net on completion of their vaccinations.

In 2013, over 1,500 people were tested for HIV at the CIB clinic, health centres and during HIV field activities and those that tested positive have been offered long-term support and anti-retroviral drugs through the clinic’s partnership with PharmAccess.

As a result of the FFAB programme, 5% of the patients at the CIB health centres are Pygmies, and almost 350 children now attend the schools in Pokala and Kabo. In 2013, several of the first in-take of children at the FFAB school have completed their primary education and have continued to secondary school.

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