Business Investing in Malaria Control

01 May 2011

RBM Progress and Impact Series

Business Investing in Malaria Control: Economic Returns and a Healthy Workforce for Africa, the sixth report in the Roll Back Malaria Progress & Impact Series, examines how private sector investment in malaria control has improved cost effectiveness at companies operating in malariaendemic regions in Africa. Companies in Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Mozambique, and Zambia have worked to prevent malaria among their workers and workers' dependents and have seen an excellent return on investment, with significant reductions in malaria-related illnesses and deaths, worker absenteeism, and malariarelated spending.

A summary of key messages

  • Malaria is bad for business: the disease is responsible for decreased productivity, employee absenteeism, increased health care spending, and can negatively impact a company's reputation. A 2006 report found that nearly three-quarters of companies in the Africa region reported that malaria was negatively affecting their business.
  • Malaria infection in company employees can impact the local economy because the overall labor force is weakened by sickness and absenteeism, savings are lost, commerce is slowed, investments and tax revenues are reduced and public health budgets are diminished.
  • Companies have been able to scale up malaria control quickly and have seen a rapid return on investment. Malaria-related spending at three company clinics in Zambia decreased by more than 75%, and a very conservative estimate showed that the companies gained an annualized rate of return of 28%.1
  • Strong models exist for businesses to take leadership roles in controlling malaria, protecting their workers and their families, strengthening their businesses, and extending programmes into communities.
  • The private sector is a critical partner and can collaborate with and complement national programmes to resource and implement effective malaria control. The benefits reaped by malaria control efforts in the business context are fragile and can be temporary unless durable investments are made to ensure continued success.