“Our vision is not health for some; it’s not health for most; It’s health for all!“ So said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General at the World Health Organisation (WHO) at the United Nations General Assembly 74th Session in September 2019. Given recent events, a continued focus on universal health and well-being has never been as important as it is today.
This commitment is reflected in the UN Sustainable Development Goals as SDG 3 ‘Health and Well-Being’. As a follow-up to our introductory report on Gold Mining’s Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals, we decided to dig a little deeper into some of the targets and indicators of specific SDGs to identify where the industry is having the most impact. SDG 3 was an obvious place to start.
The global pandemic has meant that recent advances made across a number of the SDG 3 targets have been eroded as the pandemic has taken hold, and much of this has been experienced in low and middle income countries. Ultimately, it has never been more important that industries help to support and deliver the goals of SDG 3.
Many World Gold Council Members operate in regions which are disproportionately impacted by healthcare challenges. These companies are playing a key role in supporting their employees and wider communities. Our members have put tremendous efforts into helping their host nations and communities tackle COVID-19 including considerable financial contributions in addition to providing PPE, medical supplies, testing facilities, hospital beds and vaccination centres.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is far from the only communicable disease we need to tackle. Our members have long been at the forefront, working alongside and in partnership with national and local government agencies, in responding to public health emergencies such as malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS. One example of this is the drive to reduce malaria incidence. To give just one example, AngloGold Ashanti created a pioneering model of malaria control, which began life at the company’s Obuasi mine in Ghana in 2006. The programme achieved a 75% reduction in reported malaria cases by December 2009, and the project was supported by a $133m grant from the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and expanded throughout Ghana. The programme still continues and is now supported by a number of other gold mining companies in the country. Golden Star Resources has successfully reduced the malaria rate to under 0.25 per capita and Endeavour Mining reduced the group-level malaria incidence rate by 36% in 2020.
Gold itself is also making significant, and often unexpected, contributions to SDG 3 through its application in drugs and cutting-edge nanotechnology for human health. Many of us would also have relied on gold in recent months too. COVID-19 antigen tests, like many other rapid diagnostic tests, rely on gold nanoparticles for quick and reliable results. The same technology is used for malaria tests for instance with 350 million manufactured in 2019 alone.
Please read our new report here to learn more about gold and gold mining’s contribution to SDG 3.