Marathon Oil Successfully Fighting Malaria in Equatorial Guinea

Published July 1, 2004

Marathon Oil Corporation is showing environmental leadership in fighting one of the deadliest of human killers. Since June 2003, Marathon has partnered with Noble Energy, Medical Care Development International (MCDI), and the Government of Equatorial Guinea in implementing a comprehensive malaria control project for the nation.

Program Specifics
The five-year, $6.8 million initiative is designed to:

  • Reduce the transmission of the malaria parasite through mosquito control programs and improved preventive measures at the household and community level;
  • Improve the health care delivery system for malaria cases by establishing malaria treatment centers that will use standardized protocols for diagnosis, treatment, and referrals; and
  • Enhance surveillance systems and operational research to strengthen Equatorial Guinea’s capacity to conduct surveys and implement an effective reporting and monitoring system.

The initiative began by focusing on Bioko Island and the capital city of Malabo in order to exploit the natural advantages the island provides for transmission control. Late last year, the program was expanded to include malaria control activities on the mainland of Equatorial Guinea.

“After our entry into the country … we quickly discovered malaria is a significant health risk threatening the population of Equatorial Guinea,” said Steven Hinchman, Marathon’s senior vice president of production operations. “We saw an opportunity to make a dramatic impact by supporting a comprehensive survey of malaria on the island, and we are working with the government to adopt a plan to address solutions. This effort represents a positive step in collaboration between the government and the private sector to help control malaria and demonstrates our commitment to supporting the communities in which we operate.”

Government Praises Companies’ Leadership
Dr. Justino Obama Nve, Minister of Health and Social Welfare, expressed appreciation for Marathon and Noble’s support for Equatorial Guinea’s National Strategy to Fight Malaria (NPFM).

“The NPFM has been set up to coordinate and channel all efforts related to the fight against malaria in our country,” Nve noted. “The community’s cooperation and involvement in the fight against malaria is critical to ensure preventative measures, early diagnosis, and prompt and effective treatment of this disease. Marathon and Noble’s partnership in this effort will greatly strengthen our local capabilities.”

Rodney Cook, Noble Energy’s Middle East and Africa Business Unit Manager, added, “We believe this joint effort will contribute significantly to the overall health and quality of life of the people of Equatorial Guinea. Malaria represents one of the country’s greatest health risks. By establishing high-quality treatment centers and reducing transmission of the disease, the government of Equatorial Guinea and businesses operating locally are working together to provide important health-related services where they are needed most.”

“MCDI’s collaboration with Marathon, Noble Energy, and the Government of Equatorial Guinea represents a unique opportunity for a US-based international NGO/PVO (non-governmental organization/private voluntary organization) to work in partnership with the corporate sector,” noted Joseph Carter, director of the International Division of MCDI. “MCDI believes this malaria control program on Bioko Island represents a wonderful example of opportunities that exist when the mission statements of multiple organizations converge to improve the health of those in need.”

Marathon established a new core production area of operation in Equatorial Guinea in January 2002. Along with its partners in the Alba field, Noble Energy and GEPetrol, the national oil company of Equatorial Guinea, the company has announced two expansion projects that will substantially increase production of gas condensate and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

MCDI has a long history of working in Africa and other developing areas and touts the malaria control partnership as a way to improve the well-being of Bioko Island inhabitants. The group’s leaders have expressed hope the partnership represents a model that can be replicated for the benefit of people in other parts of Equatorial Guinea and potentially other countries in Africa. MCDI encourages partnerships that permit NGOs to support corporate social responsibility objectives in the private sector.

DDT Ban Sparked Malaria Resurgence
The malaria control project is especially timely in light of a global resurgence of malaria after anti-chemical activist groups successfully lobbied for a widespread ban of the pesticide DDT.

In the 1970s, the use of DDT was banned in the U.S. and many other countries based on fears the pesticide was harming wildlife. Since the ban, scientific evidence has shown DDT is a relatively safe pesticide and has no connection to the environmental harms alleged in the 1970s. Even the New York Times, which rarely embraces a position counter to that taken by radical environmental activist groups, has called for DDT’s return.

Using statistics provided by the World Health Organization, Steven Milloy, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and founder of the Web site, which specializes in debunking false environmental scares, reports that since the early 1970s, more than 12 billion persons have contracted malaria. More than 86 million of them have died.

James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News. His email address is [email protected].

For more information …

visit the malaria control project’s Web site at