Medical solutions provider Remote Medical International (RMI), which provides preventive and emergency medical services to mining and other industries, is currently aiding mining companies in West Africa with their response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
RMI Africa sales director Gary Oliver tells Mining Weekly that, in addition to providing fully stocked remote site field clinics, medication, equipment, and medics, the company also provides emergency response plans and medical consulting services to enable proactive planning for, and response to, medical emergencies in remote, challenging locations in Africa.
The company can also medically stabilise and provide medical evacuation for on-site staff if needed – meeting all logistical and regulatory processes to relocate patients in a “safe, efficient, and cost-effective manner”.
In terms of RMI’s Covid-19 specific solutions, Oliver explains that RMI can provide Covid-19 vaccines when they become more widely available, under strict cold supply chain requirements, as it has access to the necessary temperature-controlled logistics solutions and procedures to deliver and store vaccines on site, where qualified medical professionals can administer the vaccines as needed.
RMI also ensures that appropriate due diligence is undertaken to ensure that medication suppliers and logistics providers are appropriately certified.
Oliver adds that the company's Covid-19 solutions offering is based on a holistic approach derived from understanding an organisation’s specific operational needs. Once it has a thorough understanding of the operations, it creates workplace-specific response plans in line with the World Health Organisation guidelines, international best practice, and local regulations. The offering encompasses education and awareness training for staff, as well as screening, testing, case management, and guidance for employees returning to work after positive Covid diagnosis.
He explains that RMI typically tenders for remote site contracts, in which the company is responsible for on-site treatment of ailments, injuries and other occupational health-related issues that may arise. As such, while Covid-19 presented many “unforeseen” risks and challenges, RMI’s expertise, and the extractives industry’s general approach to health and safety, meant that adaptation was fairly swift and successful.
Oliver says that, aside from logistics-based challenges, one of the key roadblocks to providing adequate on-site medical care is budgetary concerns. He notes that, while mining companies strive toward Zero Harm, their objectives do not always necessary align with financial realities.
Another challenge is that African countries generally have a high “disease loading”, with prevailing concerns around, for example, tuberculosis and Lassa fever. As such, even before the pandemic, healthcare and access to medical equipment was a crucial concern.
He suggests that one of the means of addressing health crises is increased collaboration between industries, in terms of sharing best practice to mitigate transmission and ensure adequate responses.