Partnership to catalyse health and safety

10th November 2023 By: Sabrina Jardim - Creamer Media Online Writer

Partnership to catalyse health and safety

DR TSHEPO SEDIBE The wellness day provided healthcare services and wellness screenings for vulnerable employees, contractors and also community members

In recognition of the importance of health and safety, diamond miner De Beers Group and investment holding company AfroCentric collaborated with the South African Business Coalition on Health and Aids, the South African National Aids Council and the Private Sector Forum to host a community wellness day in Musina, in Limpopo.

Held in September, the wellness day provided healthcare services and wellness screenings for vulnerable employees, contractors and also community members.

The day formed part of a campaign launched in January by De Beers and AfroCentric to fund wellness screenings of over 25 000 community members in the labour sending areas surrounding Venetia mine, in the Vhembe and Capricorn districts.

About 24 000 screenings were completed by June, with about 1 000 having been administered during the wellness day.

“AfroCentric has shown itself to be passionate about communities and has a vision of rebuilding health, and communities in general. We are very happy to partner with them,” says De Beers health principal Dr Tshepo Sedibe.

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla, Vhembe district executive mayor Dowelani Nenguda and Musina local municipality executive mayor Godfrey Mawela were among the government officials in attendance who also received feedback on the outcomes of the campaign.

The wellness screenings supports government’s Checka Impilo campaign – an accelerated national wellness campaign that focuses on testing and treating people with the human immunodeficient virus (HIV), tuberculosis (TB), sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and noncommunicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.

To date, De Beers and AfroCentric have contributed over R10-million towards the campaign, which included wellness screening access points in HIV counselling and testing, TB screening, STI screening, blood pressure checks, glucose testing, body mass index assessments and vision screening.

The campaign also resulted in the development and training of those who operate and develop microenterprises through a BizAIDS Programme.

The wellness screening campaign also aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, the health objectives outlined in South Africa’s National Development Plan and the National Strategic Plan on HIV/Aids, STIs and TB.

In this vein, Sedibe assures that the wellness initiative successfully contributed to some of the goals outlined in the National Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB by enabling community members to make informed decisions about their health.

To ensure the success of health and safety initiatives, he notes that coordination at government, private-sector and civil society levels are necessary.

Sedibe explains that government provides the necessary guidance in ensuring that investment is allocated to the necessary areas, while the private sector mobilises the necessary skills and resources to ensure effective implementation.

Further, civil society plays a key role in enabling effective interaction with communities.

To this end, partnering with community members is necessary to achieve sustainable health goals, and mining companies need to understand the social determinants of health in their surrounding communities, as well as the structural barriers to advance sustainable health in workplaces and communities around them, he adds.

Hence, partnering with faith-based organisations and traditional leaders, for example, allows for a better understanding of what is necessary to support health and safety in communities, he says.

Sustainability Moving Forward

In addition to wellness screenings, De Beers is also focusing on improving road safety, owing to the diamond miner regularly transporting its employees to and from labour sending areas in Limpopo.

“We understand the challenges facing South African road safety. The recent safety incident involving a bus transporting one of our contractor’s personnel demonstrates its importance,” highlights Sedibe.

As a result, De Beers aims to reduce road-related fatalities.

The company has engaged in a pilot project and has invested in improving road safety on routes associated with its labour sending areas, as well as on a strategic road around the special economic zone in Musina.

De Beers has also established a programme – Living with Dignity – to address gender-based violence (GBV).

This programme aims to create an enabling environment for victims of GBV to come forward and report incidents to eliminate GBV, victimisation, harassment and sexual abuse within the organisation and surrounding communities.