Statements and Webcast
Anglo American Plc
H.E. Dr. Brian Brink (South Africa)
10 June 2011
BRIAN BRINK, Anglo American plc, dedicated his remarks to a woman who had recently died from AIDS, leaving her child orphaned. “This is the story of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said, noting that young women were dying of HIV and AIDS and that treatment often was “too little too late”. The social consequences were devastating and the economics made no sense. “This is what we have to tackle if we wish to stop the epidemic,” he said. He had seen how AIDS and tuberculosis had increased the costs of doing business, exacting a toll on employees. He had been particularly shocked by the impacts on women.
Among other things, Anglo American plc had learned that a human rights foundation for the AIDS response was vital and non-negotiable, and that partners and dependants must be part of the programmes. Counselling and voluntary testing were also essential. He had learned about the importance of making testing easy and confidential, and of the need for regular, repeated testing as a way to improve performance, as well as of knowing that an HIV-positive status would be followed up with ongoing care and support.
Most importantly, the business of AIDS response was a remarkably good investment, he said. Annual returns significantly exceeded the price of adopting that approach, as seen in reduced health-care costs, turnover and benefit payments. Liberating communities from the disease burden would allow new potential for business growth. Investments must be scaled up and benefits quantified in economic terms. Finally, he said violence against women must end. Comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and education were also needed.