Improving Health in Communities

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Improving health in communities 

Our investments in community health aim to improve the quality of, and access to, general medical care. Where a high prevalence of diseases exist in our areas of activity, we facilitate control programs that are offered to our employees and to our host communities. These initiatives range from a project to help maternal and child health in South Africa and Mozambique, to the refurbishment of a hospital emergency department in regional Australia.

Through BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities, our UK-based charity, we have invested more than US$35 million in community health partnerships.

This included US$10 million to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to support the Mozambique Government’s malaria prevention program. Implementing partners, the Mozambique Ministry of Health and World Vision, work with communities to improve early diagnosis and treatment of malaria and undertake preventative measures such as indoor spraying and provision of insecticide-treated bed nets.

The Global Fund has financed the distribution of 16 million mosquito nets in Mozambique since 2002, with support from BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities, as well as other partners.

A US$25 million contribution to a five-year partnership with the international health organisation, PATH, supports the Window of Opportunity project to improve child and maternal health and development in five districts in South Africa and Mozambique. The project aims to strengthen local health and development systems and community structures and improve the quantity and range of clinical and community-based services.

Since the beginning of the Window of Opportunity project, the project team has been involved with the development of maternal and child health and nutrition strategies at the national level in South Africa. In May 2015, the project was involved in a global maternal and child health and nutrition consultation on the new national strategy. At the district level, the project has strengthened inter-sectoral collaboration between departments of Health, Social Welfare and Education, relating to district and national planning processes, and effective data management and use.

Since the project began, PATH has delivered technical training and clinical service quality audit tools for hundreds of professionals in child and maternal health services. PATH has also refined its innovative ‘Feeding Buddies’ approach to strengthen community-based support for pregnant women and young children, and trained and mentored community-based organisations in project and financial management, as well as behavioural change communications.

In addition, the PATH team has actively and successfully engaged with communities in each of the beneficiary districts to gain their support for integrated health and development education and promotion, primarily for pregnant women and young children. Through the involvement of local community-based organisations, the project has seen increased childhood immunisation rates and greater numbers of children being exclusively breastfed at 14 weeks of age.

BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities also (our US-based charity) contributed A$2.5 million to the refurbishment project of the Muswellbrook Hospital, in New South Wales, Australia, which opened in April 2015. The project, in partnership with Hunter New England Health, includes a new, state-of-the-art emergency department featuring additional beds and clinical treatment areas, improved visitor and staff facilities and new ambulance bays. It also incorporates the latest digital and telehealth technology to link Muswellbrook with specialists and clinicians at other hospitals in New South Wales, to enable them to provide real-time specialist healthcare, advice and assistance to staff treating critically ill patients.

In Chile, the community of Caleta Coloso (located 18 kilometres south of the city of Antofagasta) and the Atacameña communities are important stakeholders. From the beginning of operations, our Escondida Copper Asset has been implementing a community program together with the Caleta Coloso community, to help improve quality of life in the area around its port infrastructure.

In May 2014, together with the local community, it launched the Villa San Pedro de Coloso Health and Community Centre. The Centre now forms part of the area’s Primary Healthcare Plan and the Ministry of Health’s network of public healthcare centres. The Centre is managed by the Antofagasta Social Development Corporation.

Improving Health in Communities (PDF 238kb)