World AIDS Day 2018 – Know Your Status

This year, World AIDS Day is marking its 30th anniversary. In the last 30 years, progress in medicine and science has meant that an HIV diagnosis is no longer viewed as a death sentence. The number of AIDS-related deaths have fallen to the lowest this century, with fewer than 1 million people dying each year from AIDS-related illnesses thanks to sustained access to antiretroviral therapy. People living with HIV are living long healthy productive lives.

However, globally, 25% of people living with HIV do not know their status and around 5 000 are becoming newly infected with HIV every day (unaids.org). HIV testing is a critical aspect to achieving the 90-90-90 targets. Testing empowers people to make choices about prevention and treatment which slows the progression of the HIV epidemic.

Benefits of testing

  • Knowing one’s status is critical for promoting behaviour change amongst those who test negative and providing timely access to care, treatment and support services for those who test positive. Among the people living with HIV who know their status four out of 5 are accessing treatment (unaids.org).
  • When people living with HIV know their status and have an undetectable viral load, they cannot transmit HIV sexually. 19.4 million people living with HIV do not have suppressed viral loads (unaids.org).
  • When pregnant women living with HIV know their status and are on treatment, they can stop transmission of HIV to their babies.

The workplace can play a vital role in the HIV response through scaling up access to HIV testing and treatment for employees, their families and communities. An economic evaluation of the SWHAP South Africa Programme by Karolinksa Institutet showed that the workplace programmes were averting an average of 20.84 HIV infections per year (7.27 amongst employees and 13.57 among their sexual partners).

Auto Sueco Tanzania HIV and wellness policy launch

In the SWHAP network, onsite workplace wellness days (where HIV and other communicable and non-communicable disease testing is made available to employees) are helping to improve the accessibility of testing during work hours. This is helping to reach larger numbers of men who traditionally have lower testing uptake compared to women as SWHAP is operating in countries where the majority of the workforce in formal employment is male. Moreover, partnership with unions means that higher testing outcomes are being achieved as unions are able to advocate for their members to participate in the HIV and wellness initiatives.

Within the workplace, barriers to testing such as stigma, discrimination and fear of losing employment are addressed through; comprehensive HIV education sessions; multi-disease testing programmes that take HIV out of isolation; and workplace HIV and wellness policies that protect the rights of workers.  Additionally, employee support programmes (with counselling, nutrition support and follow-up of positive employees) provide access to treatment and enhance adherence helping workers achieve viral suppression.

Supply chain and mentorship programmes are creating platforms for companies who have run HIV and wellness programmes for the last 14 years with SWHAP to share their experiences with their value chain. In 2017, such programmes meant that 153 workplaces were supported to set up workplace HIV and wellness programmes with access to testing for employees.

A mentorship programme in the DRC between Sodeico Development and the Association of Female Employers is extending the reach of HIV and wellness programmes

Community outreach initiatives such as the long-distance truck driver programme, are reaching key and vulnerable populations with information on HIV prevention, access to testing opportunities and referrals for treatment. Social dialogues in communities on GBV, harmful masculinities, HIV risk factors are helping to dispel myths and stigma associated with HIV paving the way for greater acceptance for testing and support of HIV positive peers.

Supporting community testing in Zimbabwe

At SWHAP we believe that knowledge is power and that employees that know their HIV status and general health risk profiles are empowered to make the right decisions to protect themselves and their families. This World AIDS Day, SWHAP joins UNAIDS and other actors in raising awareness about the importance of knowing ones’ status and promoting access to testing for employees their families and communities.

Workplace Programmes Tackling GBV Against Women and Girls

Sunday 25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.

SWHAP joins UN Women in commemorating this campaign under the theme, Orange the World: #HearMeToo. The theme builds on the momentum of global movements (#MeToo, #TimesUp) that have brought survivor stories to the forefront of public attention. It is an encouragement to end the culture of silence that surrounds gender-based violence (GBV), a call for systemic change in institutions where GBV is perpetrated and a demand for perpetrators to be held accountable.

Violence against women and girls takes place in public and private spaces, it manifests in many forms including, intimate partner violence, sexual violence and harassment, human trafficking, female genital mutilation and child marriage.  Globally 35% of women have experienced physical and/ or sexual violence (who.org). In Africa, one in three women experience GBV in their life and one in four women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa is married before the age of 18 (ippafar.org).

Survivors of violence often experience physical, emotional and psychological trauma. The impact of this violence extends to families and communities and has a negative impact on social and economic development. Additionally, GBV has been identified as one of the significant drivers of HIV infection, making the elimination of violence against women an important factor in addressing HIV.

GBV is rooted in inequalities and unequal power relations. A recent report on The State of the African Woman notes that “many forms of gender-based violence continue to be accepted among both women and men in African countries, owing to persisting gender norms, beliefs and practices that tolerate or justify gender-based violence against women”. The report goes on to say that “patriarchal gender norms also continue to constitute barriers to access to justice and support” for survivors.

These harmful gender norms need to be challenged to allow survivors of violence to share their experiences without fear of stigma or reprisal, and for them to get access to justice and support.

Companies in the SWHAP network use the structures of their workplace HIV and wellness programmes to address the underlying institutional, social and cultural issues related to GBV. For example:

  • Gender mainstreaming and diversity management strategies tackle gender inequalities and issues related to GBV and sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Social dialogues bring men and women together to discuss the various forms of violence and harmful practices against women.
  • Education through industrial theatre and role play encourages open communication about harmful gender norms and stereotypes which promote unequal power relations.
  • Through workplace HIV and wellness programmes, women are empowered with information on how to respond to different types of violence and how to identify sources of help.
  • Discussion forums for male employees actively engage them in efforts to address GBV.
  • Companies also conduct community outreach programmes creating understanding on the far-reaching consequences of GBV – promoting long-term social transformation.

Source: undp.org

Some examples from the SWHAP network:

At the workplace

Under a pilot programme on managing diversity, companies in the SWHAP network in South Africa are using social dialogue to address issues around sexual harassment in the workplace. Steering committees from the different companies have been trained on how to conduct workplace social dialogues (involving management, employees and trade unions) that challenge structures and beliefs that perpetuate violence against women in all spheres. In South Africa, one woman is killed by her intimate partner every eight hours and one in four women is a survivor of domestic violence.

In communities

Verde Azul Mozambique, trained community activists to raise awareness on GBV and its consequences for residents of Chizavane Village 280 kilometres northwest of the capital Maputo. The training looked at issues such as; gender and sex; gender roles and stereotypes; and the consequences of violence for victims and their families. Participants were also equipped with information on how to assist survivors of GBV and ways to start addressing power imbalances that contribute to violence.

GBV focus group discussion

Working together we can end GBV against women and girls.

 

 

 

Celebrating 14 Years of Sustainable Workplace Programmes

SWHAP 2018 Conference

On 4 October, SWHAP welcomed over 175 delegates from ten countries to Johannesburg South Africa for the two-day SWHAP 2018 Conference. Held under the theme, “Celebrating 14 years of shared value through sustainable workplace programmes” the conference commemorated 14 years of partnerships that have inspired and created HIV and wellness programmes at over 160 companies in 11 countries. It also provided a platform for peer learning on sustainability, return on investment of wellness interventions, enhanced private sector contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and discussions around a new programme supporting sustainable business.

SWHAP Board Chair Sofia Birkestad Svingby opened the conference, acknowledging the partnerships and efforts that had contributed to the success of the Programme. This was followed by the keynote address made by Professor Shelia Tlou, Co-Chair of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition and former Minister of Health of Botswana. In her remarks, Professor Tlou, spoke of the essential role workplace programmes play in improving the health of workers, their families and communities.

Professor Shelia Tlou, Co-Chair of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition and former Minister of Health of Botswana

A dialogue between the SWHAP Chair, Sofia Birkestad Svingby and IF Metall Union Secretary, Anna Jensen Naatika, emphasized the partnership approach of the programme and the importance of dialogue between stakeholders to create interventions that provide value for all. The presentation by the Embassy of Sweden Lusaka Regional Advisor for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Mrs Chilamo Sinkala Sikazwe, noted the tangible impact of the programme on the labour force and communities in East and Southern Africa.

From left: Sofia Birkestad Svingby, Vice President Corporate Responsibility, Atlas Copco and SWHAP Board Chair; Daniel Mwaura, SWHAP East Africa Regional Coordinator; and Anna Jensen Naatikka, IF Metall Union Secretary and SWHAP Board Vice Chair

Panel discussions on the first day of the conference looked at practical ways to create sustainable workplace programmes through strategic partnerships and also provided examples of shared value through community engagement.

During breakaway sessions, the benefits of the SWHAP supply chain programme, which promotes the sharing of HIV and wellness knowledge and skills through the principles of mentorship, participatory learning, networking and ongoing support, were highlighted.  SWHAP partners from DRC, Zambia, Kenya and South Africa along with their value chain partners shared their experiences and lessons learnt on how the SWHAP supply chain programme created added value for both mentor and mentee companies.

Sandvik South Africa talking about their experiences with the Supply Chain Model

Peer Educators from Sandvik, Orange, Babcock and Scania, spoke with passion about their efforts to encourage positive behaviour change in the workplace and improve their colleagues’ understanding of sexual reproductive health and rights. Their examples exemplified the importance of building in-house capacity for workplace wellness programmes.

Day two of the conference started with an early morning Zumba session followed by an industrial theatre on HIV and sexual networks.

Interactive industrial theatre performance

Practical demonstrations on stress relief during the industrial theatre

SWHAP Programme Manager, Alessandra Cornale, then set the tone for the day’s discussions with a presentation on opportunities for private sector contribution to the SDGs and outlined the roadmap for a future programme. The proposed initiative, Swedish Workplace Programme, will keep to the fundamental idea that the workplace can be a powerful change agent to improve decent work opportunities and promote sustainable business through the already established partnership model, but will extend operations to new markets and diversify the focus of the workplace programmes.

During his presentations and a follow-up question and answer session, Andreas Foller, Head of Sustainability at Scania and SWHAP Board member, provided inspiration for the participants’ discussions giving practical examples on how Scania prioritises contribution to the SDGs. Conference delegates then considered nine SDGs related to, among other issues, health, reducing inequalities, clean water, sanitation, decent work, economic growth, peace and justice: noting how they could (through their organisations) make meaningful contributions.

Sustainable development panel.  From left: Johan Järvklo, VW Workers Council; Ida Chimedza, International Labour Organization Zimbabwe; Andreas Follér, Scania Group; Alessandra Cornale, SWHAP.

Think global act local – discussing private sector contribution to the SDGs

At the end of the conference, SWHAP launched an impact booklet, “14 Years of Championing HIV and Wellness Programmes in Sub Saharan Africa”. Follow the link to read more.

Quotes

Your strong ownership, engagement and joint efforts have made all the difference. All of you present and all your colleagues and partners that are not here today have contributed to the success of the programme. You are the drivers and the heroes of this success. – Sofia Birkestad Svingby, SWHAP Board Chair and Vice President Corporate Responsibility, Atlas Copco

SWHAP has always been one of the organisations after my own heart. It is rooting for implementing programmes for healthy employees and healthy communities with personal ownership by the managers, the employees and the unions.  –Professor Sheila Tlou, Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition

It is important that management and trade union representatives set an example to create a positive atmosphere for collaboration and also to break down the stigma around HIV and AIDS. – Anna Jensen Naatikka, SWHAP Board Vice Chair and Union Secretary IF Metall

We have partnered with SWHAP since 2004. During the last 14 years, we have seen the programme grow from supporting a few workplaces in South Africa with HIV responses to where it is today reaching the labour force their families and communities in Eastern and Southern Africa. – Chilamo Sinkala Sikazwe, Embassy of Sweden Lusaka Regional Advisor for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Global development challenges represent market opportunities for those companies that are able to develop and deliver innovative and effective solutions – so private sector engagement in the SDGs creates shared value and contributes to sustainable development for all. – Alessandra Cornale, Programme Manager, SWHAP

It is very significant that three years ago we got the Sustainable Development Goals. They allow us to put our capabilities and particular strengths as an organisation towards specific targets. – Andreas Foller, Head of Sustainability, Scania

Cooperation between governments, employers and workers is central to creating the conditions for inclusive growth and decent work. – Ida Tsitsi Chimedza, National Focal Point in HIV and AIDS, International Labour Organization Zimbabwe

Companies were invited to showcase their workplace programmes during the conference

As with previous conferences, free HIV and biometric testing was available for participants and hotel staff

Appreciation certificates for management and employee commitment in the implementation of workplace HIV and wellness programmes were presented at a gala dinner on 5 October.

Promoting Gender Sensitive Workplaces and Communities

Gender inequality and harmful gender norms are associated with the spread of HIV and its consequences. This makes the integration of gender within HIV and AIDS responses vital. Addressing gender inequalities removes barriers to accessing HIV services, enabling women and men to get comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.

SWHAP promotes gender-sensitivity in workplaces and communities through three approaches; gender mainstreaming and diversity management; targeted gender activities; and gender-aware dialogues.

Zambia

Gender dialogues were held in Kitwe on Saturday 21 July. Thirty-eight participants from Atlas Copco, Sandvik, SKF, Orica, Scania Hazida Motors, ZAMEFA, Stanbic and Mulonga Water and Sewerage participated in the dialogues which aimed to promote positive behaviour change that strengthens and sustains the working relationship between men and women both at workplace and community level.

The dialogue; built understanding on how gender norms affect health; developed the capacity of participants to incorporate gender activities into peer education programmes; and explored strategies for tackling gender inequalities in the workplace.

Gender dialogue in Kitwe

 Mozambique

As part of outreach activities, Verde Azul Mozambique trained community activists to raise awareness on gender-based violence (GBV) and its consequences for residents of Chizavane Village 280 kilometres northwest of the capital Maputo.

The training looked at issues such as; gender and sex; gender roles and stereotypes; and the consequences of violence for victims and their families. Participants were also equipped with information on how to assist survivors of GBV and ways to start addressing power imbalances that contribute to violence.

Prior to the training, Verde Azul conducted a baseline survey in the community on the attitudes, behaviours and practices related to GBV. Villagers interviewed were aware of GBV within their communities and were willing to engage in transformational approaches addressing power imbalances that contribute to the perpetration of violence.

GBV focus group discussion

Kenya Road Safety and Health Programme

On 20 August, the National Transport and Safety Authority of Kenya launched a road safety and health programme in partnership with Pioneer Road Safety and the Kenya HIV and AIDS Business Council. Supported by SWHAP and the International Labour Organization, the programme targeted long-distance truck drivers by providing, voluntary HIV counselling and testing, and blood sugar and blood pressure screening at designated stops along the Northern Corridor from Mombasa to Malaba border control. The initiative was complementary to the Checkmate Project (launched last year) which sought to address key challenges related to road safety.

NTSA Director, Francis Meja, at the launch ceremony

The launch ceremony included a session on the programme rationale for CEOs from leading logistics companies as getting their buy-in and support was essential for a sustainable response. The CEOs’ were encouraged to prioritise the health of their workers as a business strategy. Often the high demands of long-distance truck drivers’ jobs lead them to overlook their health, which negatively impacts their wellbeing with knock-on effects for their firms.

During the 5-week campaign, roadshows were conducted at Maungu, Masimba, Salgaa and Juakali – 1 734 people were screened for blood pressure and body mass index and 505 for HIV.  Additionally, 4 200 people were reached with HIV awareness messages through, posters, banners and informal education sessions. The low HIV prevalence (four people tested positive) was attributed to the high level of HIV awareness among the truck drivers and commercial sex workers with correct and consistent use of condoms well-articulated.

However, it was clear that drivers needed more information on non-communicable diseases and the importance of exercise and a healthy diet. Most drivers, reported unhealthy eating habits, with fast food and energy drinks being the main fare.

As a result of the initiative, committees were formed from the heads of the logistics companies to spearhead implementation of arising recommendations. The steering committee also created a platform for sharing best practice, especially from those already implementing road safety initiatives.

The Northern Corridor is the busiest transport route in Kenya as it provides a gateway to the port of Mombassa for landlocked countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan – 46% of road fatalities in the country happen along this route.

SWHAP Networks

Fourteen years of SWHAP have resulted in the creation of networks connecting companies from diverse countries and sectors for peer to peer exchanges on workplace disease management and sustainability strategies. These networks have also made SWHAP an attractive partner for private sector engagement on HIV.

Tanzania

On 19 September, a network training meeting was held in Tanzania for companies supported under the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) and the Trade Union Confederation of Tanzania (TUCTA) partnership programme. The objective of the network meeting was for companies to update each other on the progress they were making in the implementation of their workplace HIV and AIDS initiatives.

The meeting was opened by the Director of ATE, Dr Mlimuka, who emphasized the necessity of partnerships in the HIV response. He commended the SWHAP model noting how it has helped companies reduce the effects of HIV and AIDS in the workplace. Other partners from the SWHAP network in Tanzania, the International Labour Organization and the Tanzania Commission for AIDS also participated in the experience sharing exercise.

Since 2016, SWHAP has partnered with ATE and TUCTA, assisting 20 companies to set up workplace HIV and wellness programmes following the SWHAP model.

“The implementation of workplace programmes will not only ensure increased productivity but also will help to promote a healthy and motivated workforce which is an important ingredient in national development” – Dr. Mlimuka, Director ATE

Zambia

In related news on peer to peer learning, CEO network meetings were held in Lusaka and Kitwe during August with representatives from Atlas Copco, Volvo, Epiroc, Scania, ZAMEFA and Mulonga Water and Sewerage.

Participants at the Kitwe CEO Meeting

Improving the Accessibility of HIV and Wellness Testing for Employees

Between July and September eight companies from Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe ran wellness days improving employee access to HIV and wellness testing. HIV testing services are an essential gateway to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, and central to achieving the 90-90-90 targets.

SWHAP East Africa Region

In the second week of September, Gold Crown (a Shreeji Chemicals mentee company) partnered with the Mombasa County Government to provide access to HIV counselling and testing services for its employees and community. In total, 330 people were tested for HIV. For 73 people this testing opportunity was the first time they learnt of their HIV status. All those who tested positive were referred for treatment at local health centres. Earlier in the year Gold Crown also held TB screening and financial wellness workshops for its employees.

HIV counselling and testing at Gold Crown

Shreeji Chemicals themselves also held a wellness day in August where female condom demonstrations were part of the awareness activities.

To celebrate their 10th anniversary, Tamarind Translations provided HIV and biometric screening for its staff achieving 100% testing uptake. The Company invited suppliers and partners to the celebrations. The wellness day was followed by a team-building retreat with a focus on physical activity and wellness.

Tamarind Translations wellness day in August

SWHAP Southern Africa Region

Ericsson Zimbabwe held a wellness day on 29 July providing its employees, and those from neighbouring companies, with an opportunity to update their health risk profiles. Ericsson were commended for facilitating the wellness programme which allowed employees to know their HIV status. Knowing one’s status is critical for promoting behaviour change amongst those who test negative and providing timely access to care, treatment and support services for those who test positive.

Condom distribution at Ericsson Zimbabwe

Volvo Titanium Motors Zambia held testing on 4 September

The Verde Azul Mozambique wellness day was a family affair with testing for HIV, diabetes, hypertension and cancer screening available for employees and their family.  Other services included family planning information, eye tests, dental care and exercise sessions. Over 100 people from the community attended the wellness day.

Also, in Mozambique, Epiroc held two wellness days, one on 15 September for staff in Tete, and another on 28 September for their Maputo colleagues. As well as providing opportunities for testing both sessions emphasized the importance of exercise for good health.

South Africa

Turnkey Hydraulics, a company under the Sandvik mentorship programme, held its second wellness day on 24 August. Forty-seven employees participated in the wellness activities. The focus of the wellness day was on substance abuse prevention with simulations showing effects of, for example, alcohol abuse using special goggles as demonstrated in the image below.

Mentorship Updates

SWHAP Supply Chain and Mentorship Models encourage the sharing of HIV and wellness knowledge, skills and experiences through the principles of mentorship, participatory learning, networking and on-going support. Mentor companies (usually SWHAP partners that are running established programmes) take the lead in implementing the programmes. They are responsible for coordination of logistics, monitoring and evaluation, and liaison with service providers to support training and testing for HIV, and other medical conditions.

Zambia

Sandvik Zambia launched its mentorship programme on 27 July, with a joint management sensitisation session which built the business case for workplace wellness and explained the mentorship model and process to stakeholders. The sensitisation was attended by representatives from the management and trade unions of Sandvik, Nkana Water and Sewerage Company and the Central African Baptist Organisation. Sensitisation was followed by steering committee selection and training in August. In September, Nkana Water and Sewage Company went on to conduct onsite awareness sessions for the rest of its management team and staff.

Sandvik Zambia representatives and their mentorship programme counterparts

Orica has finished its mentorship programme having mentored two companies this year. Preparations are underway for the policy launch ceremonies.

Orica Zambia mentorship programme Peer Educator training

Zimbabwe

The Scanlink mentorship of Peace Security kicked off with awareness presentations conducted for management, union representatives and staff in July. Members of the senior management team at Peace Security noted their appreciation of the presentation indicating that it shed light on the importance of workplace wellness programmes and their relevance to business. The programme should positively benefit the more than 600 employees at Peace Security.

South Africa

UD Trucks South Africa is mentoring nine McCarthy dealerships to set up comprehensive HIV and wellness workplace programmes. The supply chain programme is at an advanced stage. Policy development workshops were held on 11 September as well as successful wellness days with an average uptake of 70% for both health risk assessments and HIV counselling and testing.

Policy development workshop for UD Trucks Supply Chain Programme

Reaching the Informal Sector through Union Mentorship Programmes

Partnership with SWHAP has helped La Confédération Syndicale du Congo, or CSC, have a positive impact on the informal sector in the DRC, where the union is working to promote social protection and decent work. This work is essential as the African Development Bank reports that the majority of the DRC’s socio-economic activities take place in the informal sector and an estimated “80% of the active population operates outside the labour market”. CSC has 2000 members in formal employment and 800 in the informal sector.

Prior to the mentorship with SWHAP, the union conducted ad hoc activities on HIV and AIDS for its members. Training has assisted CSC to formally integrate HIV under the Union’s social protection objectives, enhancing its capacity to teach employees and members how to protect themselves against HIV and other communicable and non-communicable diseases.

Some results from 2018:

  • 42 trade unionists from the informal and formal sector trained on how to pilot and implement health initiatives within workplaces.
  • 26 trade unionists trained on workplace HIV policy drafting.
  • 43 Peer Educators built capacity in sexual reproductive health, gender equality and behaviour change communication and advocacy.
  • 28 300 condoms distributed.
  • 10 awareness sessions coupled with HIV counselling an testing conducted with Peer Educators in the formal and informal sector.
  • Over 800 taxi drivers, female market vendors, mechanics and those working in agriculture, reached with information on HIV prevention and family planning.

Additionally, within the formal sector, the Union created structures in 29 member companies to improve health interventions and outreaches that were already being conducted. Steering committees and vibrant peer education programmes are now promoting positive behaviour change in workplaces and communities.

Three-day peer educator training conducted in Lubumbashi during August

A new manual was developed by CEILS business coalition for the training course.

Third Phase of Kenya Union Employer Partnership Completed

The third phase of the Union Employer partnership was completed in August reaching 10 companies in Nairobi with; management sensitisation; champions training; HIV awareness; baseline knowledge attitudes, behaviours and practices surveys; and testing for employees. Over 3 600 people were empowered with HIV and AIDS information and 1 626 participated in voluntary HIV testing and counselling. The success of the third phase was attributed to management and wellness champions at the 10 companies who worked together to create enabling environments for employees to participate in awareness sessions and testing.

Employee sensitisation

The Programme was a partnership with the Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers and Allied Workers Union (KLDTDAWU), the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), the Central Organization of Trade Unions Kenya (COTU-K), the International Labour Organization, the National AIDS Control Council and SWHAP. Participating companies were members of FKE and KLDTDAWU. In total, since 2016, 30 companies (operating predominantly in the transport sector) have been assisted to set up workplace programmes that address HIV risk. Another important aspect of the programme has been advocacy for enrolment on to the National Hospital Insurance Fund during the awareness drives conducted by the Union.