- A "comprehensive malaria control project" for Equatorial Guinea's Bioko Island was made public today. For the first time, the oil industry and the government agree to spend funds on a social project in the country, using oil revenues.
Two of the leading US oil companies operating in Equatorial Guinea, together with the government, today announced they were to spend US$ 7.8 million on a malaria control project for Bioko Island. Marathon Oil, Noble Energy and the government had signed a letter of intent with the US-based Medical Care Development International (MCDI) to implement the project.
This five-year initiative had been designed to "reduce the transmission of the malaria parasite through mosquito control programs and improved preventive measures at the household and community level," according to a statement released today by the Texan company Marathon Oil.
The project further was said to "improve the health care delivery system for malaria cases by establishing malaria treatment centres that will use standardised protocols for diagnosis, treatment and referrals, and enhance surveillance systems and operational research to strengthen Equatorial Guinea's capacity to conduct surveys and implement an effective reporting and monitoring system."
The Marathon release said this initiative would focus on Bioko Island and the capital city of Malabo "in order to exploit the natural advantages the island provides for transmission control." It was however anticipated that this programme "could serve as a template for malaria control activities on the mainland of Equatorial Guinea."
- After our entry into the country 18 months ago, we quickly discovered malaria is a significant health risk threatening the population of Equatorial Guinea, said Marathon Vice-President Steven Hinchman. "We saw an opportunity to make a dramatic impact by supporting a comprehensive survey of malaria on the island."
He added that his company was working with the government to adopt a plan to address solutions. "This effort represents a positive step in collaboration between the government and the private sector to help control malaria and demonstrates our commitment to supporting the communities in which we operate," said Mr Hinchman.
Dr Justino Obama Nve, Equatoguinean Minister of Health and Social Welfare, had "expressed appreciation for Marathon and Noble's support for Equatorial Guinea's National Strategy to Fight Malaria (NPFM)," according to the Marathon release.
- The NPFM has been set up to coordinate and channel all efforts related to the fight against malaria in our country, explained Minister Obama. "The community's cooperation and involvement in the fight against malaria is critical to ensure preventative measures, early diagnosis, and prompt and effective treatment of this disease. Marathon and Noble's partnership in this effort will greatly strengthen our local capabilities."
Rodney Cook of Noble Energy added: "We believe this joint effort will contribute significantly to the overall health and quality of life of the people of Equatorial Guinea. Malaria represents one of the country's greatest health risks."
By establishing high-quality treatment centres and reducing transmission of the disease, Mr Cook said the government of Equatorial Guinea and businesses operating locally "are working together to provide important health-related services where they are needed most."
Marathon and Noble are the leading operators of the offshore oil and gas fields that are providing the Malabo regime of President and dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema and his family with enormous revenues. These revenues however have not reached the impoverished population of Equatorial Guinea. In these circumstances, the malaria initiative by Marathon and Noble represents something new in the country.
MCDI, the US-based organisation to implement the malaria programme, said it believed that this partnership would "enhance the possibilities of improving the well-being of the inhabitants of Bioko Island." The group had been "encouraged" by this opportunity to work in partnership with the corporate sector.
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