Barrick Lumwana Mining Company and First Quantum Minerals (FQM) have pledged continued partnership with Government to improve life in local communities.
The two global mining companies operating in Zambia’s North-Western Province, have also promised to prioritise the health of employees and among local communities, with specific attention towards HIV/AIDS whose focus would centre on their catchment areas in Solwezi and Kalumbila districts.
Lumwana Mining Company Senior Corporate Manager Nathan Chishimba said during the World AIDS Day commemoration held at Manyama Primary School in Kalumbila district on Thursday that anti-HIV/AIDS efforts should be strengthened.
Chishimba disclosed through Sustainability Manager Christopher Mukala who spoke on his behalf that Lumwana Mining Plc’s total commitment was recording significant results in its works with the Lumwana Community AIDS Task-Force (LCATF) and health institutions.
The cooperation with stakeholders including Government was contributing to the increased level of awareness, access to medical care and treatment.
“There is need for us to step-up our efforts is in accordance with the recent UNAIDS report which reveals that in 2015 globally there were 36.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS and 2.1 million were newly infected, translating to 5,753 contracting the virus every day and 240 every hour,” Chishimba said.
He implored traditional leaders to ensure that there was zero sexual cleansing in the rural areas to achieve an HIV-free generation.
The senior corporate manager also encouraged communities to report all gender-based violence (GBV) cases and urged religious leaders to teach and openly talk about GBV and HIV/AIDS because they affect everyone.
And FQM through Kalumbila Minerals Limited public relations coordinator Mirriam Harmon pledged the company’s continued support to developmental undertakings in the communities where the company operates.
“We want to continue partnering with Government on developmental issues, but not only in projects we have undertaken but new ones. We consider ourselves as partners who are developing communities while we do business.
“In the run up to this event we have been involved in several programmes which include distribution of health materials, and we have focused on the girl-child who we consider our ambassador for tomorrow. This is because she plays a key role in the prevention stage because of her vulnerability.”
Harmon revealed that the FQM programme had set a sensitisation and treatment target and reached 6,000 individuals during the current quarter. She challenged everyone at the ceremony to take it upon themselves to spread the word about the prevention of HIV/AIDS.
And Government says Zambia’s anti-HIV/AIDS efforts should be in sync with worldwide campaigns as the country is part of the global community.
North-Western Province Minister Richard Kapita said the country needed to increase efforts in fighting the scourge.
“Am aware that the prevalence rate in Zambia now stands at 13.2 percent, a marked reduction from what it was a few years ago according to the latest Zambia Health and Development Survey of 2014.
“This shows that efforts are being made and we are now seeing the fruits of those efforts. I would like to thank the Ministry of Health and National AIDS Council (NAC) for a job well done, however as a country, we must not relent because 13.3 percent is still high. We need to aim higher and double our efforts to reduce this figure,” he said.
The minister added, “As a country we need to double our HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in order to stay in line with the global commitments fast-track to end AIDS epidemic by 2030.”
Earlier, District AIDS Task Force (DATF) Chairman Mando Phiri called for responsible behaviour to help the country attain the UNAIDS goal of an AIDS-free world by the year 2030.
“Our ultimate goal is the attainment of zero new infections by 2030. This is no mean task but it is possible with stakeholder participation and good will from Government,” Phiri said.