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A recent publication reports that companies' investment in malaria prevention reduces malaria illness and death among employees and their families, decreases the number of work days lost due to malaria, and improves the cost-effectiveness of malaria-related health spending.

Co-authored by PATH's Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa (MACEPA), the report, Business Investing in Malaria Control: Economic Returns and a Healthy Workforce for Africa, is the sixth installment in the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Progress & Impact Series. The Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Progress & Impact Series is an RBM and PATH collaboration that engages broad support from within the RBM partnership to benchmark progress in fighting malaria.

Malaria is a major health and economic burden for sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly three-quarters of companies in the region have reported that the disease negatively affects their business. The report analyzes the cost-effectiveness of malaria control projects implemented by companies based in Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Mozambique, and Zambia.

Substantial return on investment

The report finds companies benefited dramatically from their malaria control efforts. Employees and their families were healthier, resulting in increased workplace productivity and a decrease in work days lost due to sickness among employees and their dependants. Companies also saved money on health-care spending, reduced the strain on the health care system, and boosted local economies through their efforts.

In Zambia alone, three companies that invested $34 per employee in malaria prevention efforts reduced work days lost to malaria by 94 percent. For these companies, malaria control proved to be a sound investment. Together, they gained a 28 percent internal rate of return—a measurement of profitability—on their investments in malaria prevention.

Many of the companies profiled in this report have gone on to expand their programs beyond the workplace, securing financial support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and working with national governments to roll out programs to a much larger population. These companies have demonstrated that the private sector can be an instrumental partner with national malaria programs, capable of putting in place effective malaria control programs that can quickly reduce illnesses and deaths.

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Posted May 16, 2011.