Embassy team on the way to Madagascar mining site

The port of Toamasina (Tamatave) serves as the...Image via WikipediaA February 23, 2011 press release by the Department of Foreign Affairs

The Philippine Embassy in Nairobi reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that two Embassy personnel were sent to Madagascar Wednesday to obtain first-hand information on the conditions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are working at the Ambatovy Project in Tamatave.

The Embassy personnel were despatched in the light of the concerns raised by OFWs in the area about contracting malaria at the site.

The Embassy personnel will meet with the Ambatovy and Kentz management to discuss the issues and concerns raised by the OFWs and the repatriation requests by OFWs working at Kentz. They will also meet with Madagascar’s health officials on the reportedly increasing number of malaria cases.

Recent unconfirmed reports to the DFA stated that around 16 OFWs working at Kentz Engineers and Constructors tested positive for malaria. There has likewise been an increasing number of OFWs who are trooping to the clinic to be tested for possible malaria.

A number of OFWs has already been released from medical confinement and are recuperating.

Earlier, the Embassy already sought the assistance of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Madagascar to confirm reports of a malaria outbreak. However, in a report to the Embassy, WHO’s Dr. Luciano Tuseo has denied that there is a malaria outbreak in the area or in any other parts of the country.

Dr. Tuseo said that Madagascar “is not a malaria epidemic prone area, but endemic or holoendemic area”.

Kentz has assured the Embassy that it takes the threat of malaria seriously and will continue to undertake precautionary measures such as providing advice on personal protection methods, providing 2, 000 mosquito nets, and making available anti-malaria medications to the workers.

Kentz Engineers and Constructors has around 2, 000 OFWs working in the Ambatovy Project, a large tonnage mining project that integrates many facilities to process and refine nickel laterite into pure nickel briquettes.