Sandvik Weight Loss Challenge

After two consecutive wellness reports indicated a high number of employees with a Body Mass Index (BMI) above the normal range Sandvik South Africa decided that something needed to be done to help their employees lose weight and get into shape. Excess weight, especially obesity, diminishes almost every aspect of health, from reproductive and respiratory function to memory and mood. Obesity increases the risk of several diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

In 2016 Sandvik conceptualised a weight loss challenge for employees. They set out the goals they were hoping to achieve with the programme and mapped out the partners that would help them succeed. The objectives of the programmes were to support interested employees establish healthier lifestyles including regular exercise and healthy diets; allowing them to achieve and maintain their optimum weights. The weight loss was also expected to have a positive impact on blood pressure, cholesterol, energy levels and self-esteem. Twenty-five employees participated in the first challenge with six completing the full 12 weeks. Those six employees lost a combined total of 56 kilograms with the winner losing 22 kilograms and 15.5cm around the waist.

On 6 March this year Sandvik launched the second round of the challenge with almost double the number of participants. The programme commenced with a weigh-in and blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol measurements. Employees were then given exercise programmes and menu plans. WhatsApp support groups were set up on each site to encourage employees and keep them informed of workplace based exercise programmes. This time round the competition is group driven, with groups participating against each other. Sandvik believes this will help keep employees motivated to finish the programme which will end with a final weigh-in on 2 June.

Empowering employees to make informed decisions about health

During wellness days employees can participate in onsite biometric screening and testing for HIV. They also receive information on; the benefits of early diagnosis, the importance of knowing their health status and the management of chronic conditions. The information is designed to make sure they understand their results and any actions that need to be taken. Since the last reporting period wellness days have been held at Quant, Hydroscand, Phillip Morris International (all in South Africa) and Atlas Copco DRC: empowering over 130 employees at these companies to make informed decisions about their health.

At Quant, there was an 83% uptake for all testing with 87% of the employees that completed the health risk assessments also checking their HIV status. At Hydroscand 83% of the company attended awareness sessions with 29 participating in health risk assessments and 28 in the HIV testing.

Medical male circumcision advocacy during the Phillip Morris International wellness day

Intra-company Exchanges

SWHAP uses intra-company exchanges as a strategy for experience sharing between similar organisations and for benchmarking and creating best practices. Often these companies have common guidelines on the implementation of wellness programme as well as common reporting structures. In January, intra-company exchanges were organised for Atlas Copco Kenya and Tanzania, and for Sandvik Zambia and Tanzania. For the Atlas Copco companies, important lessons were shared on community outreach initiatives conducted by the Tanzania branch. Sandvik Zambia discussed its successful implementation of the spousal peer education programme.

Improving Compliance in HIV Workplace Programming

On 21 February, SWHAP partners in Kenya participated in a national forum for human resource managers, programme coordinators and union representatives aimed at improving compliance in HIV workplace programming.  The meeting provided a platform to share recent developments in the legal and ethical requirements regarding HIV in the workplace and to discuss innovative ways of scaling up the private sector response.

Discussions looked at the statutes protecting the rights of people living with HIV and the legal and ethical issues around testing, privacy, confidentiality, stigma and discrimination. The HIV and AIDS Tribunal – a body set up to enforce HIV-related human rights – shared a compendium of cases highlighting HIV related stigma and discrimination at the workplace. The Tribunal encouraged participants to be conversant with the relevant legislation as the consequences of non-compliance could be hefty fines.

Participants were also asked to report the good work being conducted at the workplaces with the National AIDS Control Council noting that only 4% of private sector contributions towards HIV financing in Kenya were documented.

SWHAP facilitated this enlightening forum in line with its mandate of promoting best practice in HIV and wellness programmes. SWHAP follows a rights based approach where workplace programmes and policies ensure the confidentiality of employee HIV status and protect against discrimination. The meeting was organised in partnership with the National AIDS Control Council (NACC), Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), Central Organisation of Trade Union (COTU), International Labour Organisation (ILO), LVCT Health and the HIV and AIDS Tribunal of Kenya.

Scania Hazida Gender Dialogue

A gender dialogue was held at Scania Hazida Zambia on 18 February for 23 employees who discussed gender roles, barriers to gender inequality and possible solutions. A highlight of the discussions was recognition by male employees that some of their values and actions were discriminatory towards women.

Gender dialogues will be taking place at various workplaces within the SWHAP network this year as part of efforts to mainstream gender and manage diversity within workplace HIV and AIDS programmes.

Workplace Condom Audit

A recent survey in Kenya (Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey KAIS II) revealed low condom use with sexual partners of unknown HIV status (7.1% among women and 27.1% among men). These are worrying statistics given that the main mode of HIV transmission in Kenya is sexual intercourse.

Consequently, six companies within the SWHAP programme (SKF, Amazon Motors, Assa Abloy, Tamarind Translations, HemoCue and SAAB) conducted audits at their workplaces to assess condom availability, frequency of use, and knowledge and attitudes regarding use.

Results showed that 60% of the workplaces surveyed had condom dispensers located in a place with convenient access for employees, however half of this figure did not have condoms in them.  On average over 87 000 male condoms were distributed per month compared to only 10 female condoms. Interestingly 100% condom use was reported in females aged 20-24 and males aged over 50 in sharp contrast to females over 50 who reported not using condoms at all. 70% of respondents said they had received training on condom use.

The survey highlights the importance of addressing the stigma relating to condom use as well as insuring consistent accessible supply of condoms at the workplace. Condoms are an effective and relatively cheap prevention method against HIV, sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies.

The condom audit was made possible through a partnership with the National AIDS Control Council (NACC), Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), International Labour Organisation (ILO) and LVCT Health who are working together to enhance private sector capacity to prevent new infections at the workplace.

SKF employees collecting their workplace supply of condoms

Valentine’s Day – Loving Responsibly

SWHAP and its partners tapped into Valentine’s Day and International Condom Day (commemorated on 13 February) to raise awareness on sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and HIV prevention.

In South Africa, ABB in partnership with the Department of Health held a workshop for high school children under the theme “Educated for Love” where age appropriate SRHR information was shared.

ABB South Africa youth outreach

Building on from the condom audit, workplaces in Kenya participated in a condom challenge to promote their consistent and correct use. The King of Condoms, a popular condom advocate in Kenya, visited SKF, Tamarind, SAAB and Assa Abloy initiating dialogues to destigmatise condom use. The challenge received considerable attention on social media in Kenya.

King of Condoms with employees at SKF

Peer Educators in Zimbabwe attended a workshop themed “Loving Responsibly” where they explored the responsibilities of men and women in preventing HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other health conditions. Participants noted that condoms were an effective means to prevent HIV, STIs and unintended pregnancies if used correctly and consistently. Discussions also looked at challenges in the procurement and use of both male and female condoms. It was noted that the female condom was less user-friendly due to its size and cultural factors limiting women’s capacity to negotiate and enforce its use, especially in marriage. The Peer Educators however acknowledged that despite these limitations it was a viable alternative for women, offering them the opportunity to determine safer sex for themselves and their partners.

A drama presentation by an industrial theatre group examined, sexual relationships and sexual harassment in the workplace and the benefits of having an internal locus of control regarding health in order to develop positive attitudes towards HIV prevention.

The group agreed on the role of responsible loving as a preventive strategy against HIV and other STIs not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day.

Drama on sexual harassment in the workplace

Supply Chain and Mentorship Updates

Congratulations to Sandvik South Africa who launched their supply chain programme on 17 February. The programme will assist five companies employing over 700 people within Sandvik’s value chain to set up and implement sustainable workplace HIV and wellness programmes.

In Zimbabwe, the Ericom Communications mentorship of Davies Granite is progressing well. During February, training enhanced the skills of the peer education team to become leaders capable of initiating behaviour change in their workplace. Pre-workshop and post workshop tests showed a 23% increment in the overall understanding of sexual reproductive health, workplace peer education activities, HIV counselling and testing, peer counselling and wellness. In the same month, Granite Davies also conducted a wellness day for employees and community members. 85 people were tested for HIV while 81 underwent blood pressure, blood sugar and Body Mass Index (BMI) checks.

Spouse Peer Educators from Granite Davies promoted testing on the wellness day

Ericsson Uganda concluded the first phase of their mentorship programme with the People’s Performance Group (PPG) at a meeting held on 27 February. Ericsson has mentored the company to address HIV in its workforce, and conduct testing for employees. Over three days in November last year, 136 workers tested for blood pressure, blood sugar, body mass index and HIV; 20 were testing for the first time. As part of establishing the company baseline a knowledge, attitude, behaviour and practice (KABP) survey was also conducted. It revealed some gaps on HIV transmission and prevention of mother-to-child transmission: providing some important information for the design of the PPG wellness programme. The company will now promote consistent condom use, implement a strategy to reduce stigma and discrimination and support a coordinated information, education and behaviour change communication strategy.

The programme will assist in addressing the health needs of the relatively young workforce at PPG; in a country where HIV is having a disproportionate effect on youth and the productive sector.

HIV and wellness testing at PPG in November 2016

As part of its gender outreach programme, Sodeico Manpower will be mentoring the Association of Female Entrepreneurs of the DRC (ASSOFE) to set up and implement HIV and wellness programmes within the members’ respective organisations. Preparations for the mentorship are at an advanced stage with the two organisations having met over two occasions in February to finalise details.

Be Bold for Change – International Women’s Day Commemorations

The 2017 theme for International Women’s Day “Be Bold For Change” was chosen to inspire drastic action for gender equality. SWHAP and its partners held various events to commemorate the day and ramp up support for the cause.

Peer Educators from the Atlas Copco office in Dar es Salaam Tanzania visited a local orphanage to conduct an awareness talk on menstrual hygiene for the young women there. They also donated sanitary wear and money raised by their colleagues. UNESCO estimates that one in ten adolescent girls in Africa miss school and eventually drop out due to menstruation-related issues (

At the Mwanza offices awareness sessions were conducted for 33 members of staff on raising children and offering them equal opportunities in terms of access to education. The predominantly male audience was encouraged to embrace their responsibilities regarding parenting and to be supportive partners.

More than 200 workplace and Spouse Peer Educators from Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe joined the call to be “Bold For Change”. During gender dialogues held in the four countries Peer Educators were challenged to declare the bold actions that they would take to help close the gender gap and to identify potential risks and their mitigation.

In Zimbabwe Anna Sofia Erasmie, Counsellor Political and Commercial Affairs was at the event sharing on the great progress Sweden has made towards gender equality. Divine Ndhlukula Managing Director of Securico and Tendayi Kateketa Coordinator at the Pan African Positive Women’s Coalition gave rousing talks on the events that lead them to make bold changes that improved not only their own circumstances but those of other women as well.

The dialogues in Botswana focused on identifying the key issues affecting women in Botswana and the involvement of men in meaningful action aimed at promoting gender equality. The participants also examined current programmes and policies to see whether they encouraged male engagement and how these services could be made more relevant and accessible. This was in recognition of the generally poorer health seeking behaviours exhibited by men and the impact this has on the health of their partners. The dialogue was held in collaboration with Gender Links, Bonela, Men and Boys for Gender Equality, Young Women’s Christian Association, Kagisano Women’s Shelter and the Botswana Business Coalition on AIDS.

In Zambia, participants shared what they had been doing to address gender in the workplace and community. Encouragingly most companies in Zambia were already creating spaces for dialogue on gender with one company having created a workplace gender committee.

In general, the dialogues provided a good platform for focused and systematic interaction on the issue of gender parity. This this should raise the profile of the subject at the respective workplaces.

SWHAP in South Africa participated in a workshop with the National Institute for Occupational Health promoting partnerships amongst employers, trade unions and government departments involved in the workplace response to gender.


In the DRC, the SWHAP Country Coordinator raised the profile of gender sensitive workplace programmes during an interview on national television and the union La Confédération Syndicale du Congo (CSC) held a gender sensitisation event for its members in Lubumbashi. SWHAP is supporting the Union to set up HIV and wellness workplace programmes in 29 companies where the organisation has representation.

Companies in the SWHAP network also showed their appreciation for the women in their workforce. For example, SKF Zambia gave their Spouse Peer Educators and female employees fabric to make matching outfits for the national commemorative march. UD Trucks in South Africa encouraged its workforce to wear bold colours on the day: a symbolic gesture of the bold actions they would take for gender parity.

Related article

International Women’s Day 2017 – Be Bold For Change

Union Mentorship Programmes

SWHAP often partners with unions and employers’ organisations to build capacity for HIV and wellness programmes in the workplace. These programmes often result in improved relations between management and unions. In Tanzania, the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) and the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) are working with ten companies to encourage investment into workplace programmes with support from SWHAP. HIV testing and health screening was conducted at Interchick and Hill Packaging Company in January.  279 employees established their HIV status and health risk profiles. The steering committees trained last year were instrumental in mobilising workers for testing resulting in high uptake.

Testing at Hill Packaging Company

SWHAP in the DRC has partnered with CSC to support the union in addressing HIV and wellness in 29 companies where the organisation has representation. In January, 43 Peer Educators from the Katanga province were trained on; sexual reproductive health, gender equality, behaviour change communication and advocacy for workplace programmes. The training was held over three days in Lubumbashi and included role play and group discussion after which, 6 192 male condoms, 127 female condoms and 200 information posters were handed out to the participants. Peer Educators from Atlas Copco were also present during the training providing invaluable support and insight about workplace peer education programmes.  Following the Peer Educators training, employee awareness sessions were held at BIAC (one of the companies participating in the mentorship programme) on 23 February for over 200 employees.

Newly trained CSC Peer Educators

On Friday 3 February, the National Union of Building, Engineering and General Workers Union (NUBEGW) mentorship programme was launched in Kitwe Zambia with management sensitisation for management and union representatives from the five companies participating in the programme. This was followed up with employee sensitisation at Zambia Metal Fabrication, one of the five companies under the mentorship: 150 employees attended the meeting. NUBEGW anticipate that the programme will help strengthen its comparative advantage in collective bargaining agreements, while promoting productive and sustainable workplaces.

NUBEGW was previously supported by SWHAP in 2012 to develop collective bargaining agreement tools that integrated HIV, AIDS, health and wellness.  SWHAP also shared international, regional and best practice bargaining tools with the Union’s bargainers. The Union has been engaged in addressing HIV and AIDS amongst its members at various levels and has also drafted an HIV and AIDS Policy for the sector which is yet to be disseminated.

NUBEGW is an affiliate of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and represents building, engineering and general workers. It has a membership of 15 463 including Atlas Copco and Sandvik employees.