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IMCA joins fight against malaria

Posted: 8 October 2005

IMCA – the International Marine Contractors Association – is urging member companies to join in the international fight against malaria by taking part in a study which the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University of Leiden in The Netherlands are undertaking into the long-term health of those working overseas in the oil and gas industry.

“The study will look particularly at the possible health problems and safety issues associated with the extended use of prophylactic drugs – research into anti-malaria drugs is critical as some current agents are no longer effective” explains Hugh Williams, chief executive of IMCA. “Dr Ron Behrens, Consultant at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine recently gave a fascinating presentation to our Safety, Environment & Legislation (SEL) Core Committee; and our Midsummer Ball raised £2,000 to donate to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases to fund further malaria research.

“Malaria threatens the lives of about 50% of the world’s population. It has infected 300-500 million people and causes over one million deaths each year. As the oil and gas industry has expanded its offshore production to new regions such as offshore Africa and parts of south east Asia, so issues such as health and personal security have become more and more significant, with the risk of exposure to malaria a key concern. Obviously, just one bite from a mosquito infected with the plasmodium parasite is all it takes to transmit the disease, but it is both preventable and treatable.

“All multi-national organisations with employees working in sub-Saharan Africa will be invited to participate in Dr Behrens’s study if they can provide a local investigator to monitor and assist in reporting of incidents amongst employees. We can provide full information on the study and the various steps it will be undertaking and on its overall goals. Inevitably funding is being sought for the study but companies in the oil and gas industry can also help by promoting individual recruitment to the study and by providing relevant local health support. My colleague Philip Wiggs is our internal contact on this important research project and can be contacted at”

IMCA is working with a variety of organisations in the fight against malaria. This will include health promotion, through production of guidance and distribution of literature, as well as working with Dr Behrens on the professional health surveillance and study into anti-malarial drugs.

“We have been active in a workgroup established by the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP) to produce a guide about malaria prevention aimed at those at risk in the offshore industry,” explains Hugh Williams. “Our SEL Committee reviewed the draft of this guidance which is likely to be followed by OGP members who will in turn be seeking similar conformity from contractors. This guidance discusses how to implement a malaria prevention programme within existing management systems, and is expected to be published by OGP shortly.

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