A BP-initiated community health programme has helped to nearly eradicate malaria in villages around BP Tangguh
The jagged coastline of the Bintuni Bay area, where the liquefied natural gas (LNG) business is located, has ecological features that are favourable for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. But ecology is only one factor in the spread of the disease. BP first noted the malaria issue in Bintuni Bay communities in 2000, while carrying out an environmental and social impact analysis as part of the planning for Tangguh. At that time, we found that more than 30% of residents in some local villages were affected by malaria. Three years later, with the first BP Tangguh facility under construction, we did a survey to better understand the scale and causes of the malaria problem. The survey showed that social influences were a significant factor, with many local people unable to get reliable treatment and many who had been diagnosed with malaria not taking the correctly timed doses of medications.
Malaria control programme
The Tangguh community health unit, a team BP set up to try to address some of the most pressing health risks facing local communities and the Tangguh workforce, developed a malaria control plan. They recruited and trained village malaria workers, mostly women from affected villages, to diagnose malaria using a blood detection test and then administer a complete treatment appropriate to the disease type identified. The malaria workers were equipped to provide treatment out of their homes. Complex malaria treatments were simplified with the help of a custom-designed packaging machine, with medications pre-packaged to suit patients’ weight group and to show them which doses should be taken at which times. The BP malaria team developed a range of marketing materials to raise awareness of the programme, and experts from the team visited each malaria worker regularly to support their progress.
The programme has had a marked impact. By 2013, malaria prevalence in the affected villages had fallen to an average of 0.08%, down from an average of 12% when BP did its baseline survey 10 years earlier. The success of the initial programme has led to it being expanded to include a wider area of Bintuni. And the BP malaria control team has increasingly worked alongside the regional health department. The goal is to completely eliminate malaria in Bintuni by making sure all affected villages have access to effective treatment.