Furthermore, in much of Africa, TB is pandemic. It is a disease highly associated with poor socioeconomic conditions and crowding, such as that experienced by miners who often live in hostels and camps. TB is also contagious. Both silicosis and HIV/AIDS increase a person's chances of contracting TB, which in turn, is a leading cause of death. South African gold mine workers have some the highest rate of infection in the world. The problem is not, however, limited to that country.Then, there are mosquito, food, and water borne illnesses, such as typhoid fever and malaria, which also have devastating effects in areas where the diseases are prevalent. These illnesses may sound exotic to individuals from elsewhere in the world, but in much of Africa they are very common and often fatal. Malaria, for example, is a leading killer in developing nations. Cheap labor is viewed as one of the incentives of operating in Africa. However, health issues are costing miners substantial amounts of money. Conditions such as AIDS, TB and malaria raise labor costs while eroding competitive advantage. Infections lead to increased absenteeism and declining productivity. With a condition like HIV/AIDS, the decline often spans years as the illness slowly takes its toll. Eventually, infected crew members are no longer able to work due to advanced stages of the illness or death. This means increased staff turnover, loss of skills and the need to invest in recruiting and training replacements. To their credit, many mining companies, especially the majors, have programs in place to address their staffs' health issues. Some develop internal health care systems and others provide medical coverage to utilize elsewhere. But, the less developed the country, the smaller the mining company, and the newer the mining site, the lower the quality of health care often available to workers.
Also, measures are too often reactive as opposed to being proactive, resulting in unnecessary consequences for both workers and companies. There is also substantial room for improvement For example, it has been highlighted that some miners treat workers for STDs but not their partners leading to recurring infections. For the sake of their workers and their bottom lines, gold mining companies in Africa need to prioritize the health issues and living conditions of workers.Considerations For Gold Mining in Africa: Workers' Health from Gold Investing News