Journal

Gemfields’ Montepuez Ruby Mine in Mozambique invests significantly in the long-term sustainability of the communities in and around its concession, engaging and collaborating with the local community to identify areas of greatest need and long-term benefit. They have selected three areas: education, health and agricultural livelihood projects.

This direct community investment has resulted in the establishment of a mobile health clinic that serves 10,000 people across 6 villages in and around our Montepuez concession. Since its introduction in March 2017, the mobile health clinic has provided health care to 25,000 patients.

For the health clinic to have longevity and sustainability, it needed to be a true partnership between Gemfields, the community and the state, requiring significant engagement with local communities to gain their trust for the service, given that most community members do not have access to health facilities (the nearest being 25km away). The presence of a mobile clinic in the community was highly novel and not without risks (risk of bandits causing damage or theft, or perceptions that the mobile health clinic would bring bad luck). The initial six months of the project were spent engaging the local chiefs of each village for their support, while gaining support from the Ministry of Health.

The mobile health clinic was purchased by Gemfields and is staffed by Ministry of Health nurses, particularly important given a lack of potential NGO partnership opportunities, and a need for the project to operate in a remote, grass-roots capacity, but with qualified nurses.

Access to medical services in Northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province are the worst in the country, and therefore amongst the worst in the world. The nearest health facility to the villages near the Gemfields’ owned Montepuez Ruby Mine is over 25km away, making preventative care out of reach for most people. With infant mortality, malaria, AIDS and water-borne diseases commonplace, we now provide access to health services in the absence of state services, in hard to reach communities within the mine’s 300 sq km concession area. The vehicle contains malaria, gastro-intestinal and HIV/AIDs testing equipment, basic pills and equipment such as blood pressure pumps, and equipment to inspect eyes and ears. This all allows the nurses to administer basic health care, provide prescriptions and make referrals on to other doctors or the hospital. Since the launch of the mobile health clinic in March 2017 it has had 25,000 patient visits, with an average of 2,500 per month.

Gemfields intends to provide a second mobile clinic that can double the area served, benefitting the wider community.