Sun, 04 Dec 2016 10:49:56 +0000
By Kalusa Mbasela
Barrick Lumwana Mining Company and First Quantum Minerals 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 local communities with specific attention towards HIV/AIDS.
Speaking during the World AIDS Day commemoration held at Manyama Primary School in Kalumbila district on Thursday, Lumwana Mining Company Sustainability Manager Christopher Mukala said that anti-HIV/AIDS efforts should be strengthened.
“The 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,” Mr Mukala said.
Mr Mukala implored traditional leaders to ensure that there was zero sexual cleansing in the rural areas to achieve an HIV-free generation and 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.
He further explained that Lumwana Mining Plc’s total commitment was recording significant results in its works with the Lumwana Community AIDS Task-Force and health institutions.
Meanwhile, 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,” she said.
“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.”
Ms Harmon revealed that the FQM programme had set a sensitisation and treatment target of 6,000 individuals in 2017 to curtail the AIDS pandemic. She challenged everyone at the ceremony to take it upon themselves to spread the word about the prevention of HIV/AIDS.
North-Western Province Minister Richard Kapita said the country needed to increase anti-HIV/AIDS efforts should in sync with worldwide campaigns as the country is part of the global community.