Extractive industry operations increase the potential for contact between wildlife and human populations. Such contact is a major risk factor for the emergence of infectious diseases. The Centre on Global Health Security’s Infectious Disease Risk Assessment and Management (IDRAM) initiative was supporting the extractive industry to understand, assess and mitigate this risk.

The extractive industry, through its operations, brings about changes in local environmental, social and economic conditions that increase the potential for contact between wildlife, livestock and human populations, facilitating the spread of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs). The recent West Africa Ebola outbreak showed how EID outbreaks can suspend or shutdown extractive projects. The industry therefore has a direct interest in building prevention strategies and strengthening the response capacity of national health systems.

Through the IDRAM Initiative, Chatham House aimed to facilitate dialogue between the extractive industry and international development actors, finance institutions, national governments and public health stakeholders. Actors that do not often come together are encouraged to find a sense of common purpose and identify their roles and responsibilities in assessing, managing and tackling the risk of EIDs. Chatham House facilitated this process by developing tools, and generating evidence, to enable the extractive industry to better prepare for these events.

IDRAM regularly ran simulation exercises that allowed those working in the extractive sector to gain experience of the risks associated with EID outbreaks. These exercises illustrated how outbreaks can challenge business operations; the sessions fostered discussion of how collaboration with national health systems can create appropriate and successful response strategies.

As part of its evidence-generating activities, IDRAM completed a qualitative study exploring the mining industry’s understanding and perceptions around EID risk assessment and management. The study findings complement EID preparedness self-assessment tools developed by USAID that companies can use to improve risk assessment on mining sites.

IDRAM additionally evaluated the economic impact of the West Africa Ebola outbreak on selected mining companies and building an evidence base for investment in controlling and preventing EID outbreaks. The project also involved a study investigating barriers and facilitators which influence the development of integrated outbreak response plans between extractive companies and public health sectors.

Mining and emerging infectious diseases: Results of the Infectious Disease Risk Assessment and Management (IDRAM) initiative pilot 
The Extractive Industries and Society, Volume 4, Issue 2, April 2017, Pages 251–259

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