Employees travelling on official duty and catching a disease like malaria are also considered to have fallen ill while on duty.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) attracting malaria in South Africa is considered to be a mild risk. With the exception of the Kruger National Park and a small strip off land along the borders with Zimbabwe and Botswana, the rest of South Africa poses no threat. Further north, particularly north and east of Zambia the disease is more prominent.

With many people travelling for business purposes these days, it is possible for an employee to fall ill. What is it that employers need to do when this happens?

When an employee is diagnosed with malaria, the Workmens Compensation Authority (WCA) will require the following documentation:

  1. WCL 1.
  2. Certified copy of ID.
  3. Payslip of the month in which the employee got sick.
  4. First medical report and first pathology report. The pathology report will indicate that the parasite is present in the patient’s blood
  5. Final medical report and final pathology report. The pathology report will indicate that the patient’s blood is clear of the parasite.
  6. Exposure history – please provide as much detail as possible. (Some questions are not relevant to the malaria.)
  7. Resumption Report
  8. WCA will require any other document relating to the disease. If an employer / employee made any payments for medicine / medical treatment you will be expected to provide the medical report, referral letters and the prescription. WCA will require you to submit the original proof of payment and the original invoice to claim back your expenses.

WCA will only pay out claims or reimburse TTD's once it has finalised the claim.

As you can see, a small parasite like the malaria bug could be responsible for a significant workload. To make matters worse malaria symptoms don't necessarily show immediately. The bug can become a serious threat even days after it infected a person. Some companies, in particular big mining companies in other African countries and companies with employees that are in and out high-risk areas, have moved to a system whereby employees are tested prior to departure and on their return.

Malaria is a serious disease and it can be lethal. Signs and symptoms of malaria typically begin 8'25 days following infection however, symptoms may occur later in those who have taken anti-malarial medications as a preventative. Initial manifestations of the disease'common to all malaria species'are similar to flu-like symptoms, and can resemble other conditions such as septicaemia, gastroenteritis and viral diseases. Symptoms may include: headache, fever, shivering, joint pain, vomiting, haemolytic anaemia, jaundice, haemoglobin in the urine, retinal damage or convulsions.

The classic symptom of malaria is paroxysm'a cyclical occurrence of sudden coldness followed by shivering and then fever and sweating, occurring every two days. The infection can cause recurrent fever every 36'48 hours or a less pronounced and almost continuous fever.

Don't under-estimate malaria and certainly don't underestimate the paperwork that comes with it once an employee has fallen ill. Although it is impossible to prevent people from getting infected, employers must be aware that the responsibility for the well-being of their staff doesn't stop at the gate.

Posted date: 22nd May 2014
Latest News - Occupational Health

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