The following regional newsletters are available for download:
Sodeico Manpower is gearing up for its proposed mentorship of the Association of Female Entrepreneurs of the DRC (ASSOFE). On 29 November SWHAP facilitated an awareness session on HIV, women’s health and non-communicable diseases during the Association’s Wellness Day. 63 female heads of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) took part in the programme which included Voluntary Counselling and Testing as well as biometric tests.
SMEs are the growth engine of Africa making substantial contributions to gross domestic product. HIV and AIDS can be particularly devastating for SMEs affecting, skills, labour supply, disrupting production and increasing costs of doing business (International Labour Organization). In many cases SMEs are less likely to have the resources to proactively prevent or manage HIV and AIDS. The mentorship programme should help the members of the Association to set up workplace programmes that protect the rights of employees and address HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment and care needs.
October is breast cancer awareness month, it helps to draw attention to and increase support for awareness, early detection and treatment. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and it also affects men. In 2012 nearly 1.7 million new cases were diagnosed (World Cancer Research Fund International).
The majority of breast cancer deaths occur in low-and-middle income countries where cancer is diagnosed late as a result of a combination of factors including lack of awareness on early detection and barriers to accessing health care services. Not enough information is known about the causes of cancer so early detection is one effective strategy for breast cancer control.
During October workplaces in the SWHAP network promoted early detection for breast cancer. Working with national cancer associations workplaces raised awareness on how to recognise the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer and how to conduct breast self-exams. These are effective strategies in settings where access to screening and treatment interventions is limited (World Health Organization).
As part of the November awareness calendar, many companies tackled issues dealing with men’s health. Companies like Atlas Copco Namibia encouraged male employees to take part in national cancer association events such as “Movember” which encourage men to develop more proactive health seeking behaviours as part of strategies to address prostate and testicular cancers.
SWHAP follows a wellness approach as it has been proven to encourage more people to agree to testing and to engage in prevention activities compared with a focused HIV approach. Additionally, it also addresses related diseases and lifestyle issues which can either contribute to the spread of HIV or affect those living with HIV disproportionately. Studies by Lancet predict that by 2030 the cancer burden in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by 85%. Raising awareness on cancer is also important for HIV programmes as HIV increases the risk of developing cancers such as Kaposi sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and cervical cancer.
A warm welcome to Lincoln Lubrications from South Africa and Jamii Bora Bank from Kenya, who are the latest addition to the SWHAP network. Management and worker sensitisation was held on Friday 16 October at Jamii Bora where participants were taken through the effects of HIV and non-communicable diseases on the workplace and the benefits of investing in workplace HIV and wellness programmes. Workplace programme activities at Lincoln Lubrications will kick off in early 2016.
On 23 November SWHAP in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) and the Tanzania AIDS Commission (TACAIDS) hosted a CEO breakfast forum for private sector actors as part of the build-up to World AIDS Day. The meeting which took place in Dar es Salaam brought together over 40 participants representing development partners, the United Nations, CEO’s and Human Resource Directors to share best practice on HIV workplace programmes in Tanzania, including the return on investment of such programmes. SWHAP shared lessons on how the benefits of investment into employee health outweigh costs.
During the meeting TACAIDS called upon the private sector to support and contribute to the AIDS Trust Fund, an initiative by the government of Tanzania to enhance the sustainability of HIV and AIDS responses in the country. Additionally the important role of the sector in supporting the implementation of the Third National Multi-Sectoral Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS (NMSF III), in particular reaching workers and their families through workplace based responses and the piloting of the new World Health Organization guidelines on testing and treating in workplace settings, was emphasized.
HIV remains a major challenge to Kenya’s socio-economic development. While significant progress has been made in addressing the epidemic amongst the general population prevalence is still very high in key populations who include sex workers, truck drivers, men who have sex with men and people who use drugs. HIV prevalence amongst truck drivers in East Africa is higher than the national average. Due to the nature of their work, long distance trucker drivers spend the majority of their time in transit along the highways far away from their families. This absence from their families often leads to high risk sexual behaviour, transactional sex and multiple sexual partners along major towns and stopover points. The transient nature of their work also makes it difficult for them to access healthcare services and appropriate information which can make them more vulnerable to exposure to HIV or other opportunistic infections.
In response to this challenge the Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers Union through the Highway Community Health Resource Centre (HCHRC, the health arm of the union) established sites strategically located along the Northern highway corridor and weigh bridges as well as neighbouring workplaces, to offer HIV, AIDS and STI services to truck drivers and other key populations along the highway corridor. During September and October SWHAP partnered with the Union and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to enhance the HIV and AIDS Workplace Programmes for truck drivers through: raising HIV awareness to the Truck Drivers, offering HIV testing and counselling services with linkage to treatment, care and support and providing sensitisation on the importance of enrolling on the Union’s social protection schemes. Over a three week period 6 345 people received education on HIV and AIDS, over 5 065 learnt their HIV status and 59 600 condoms were distributed.
Kenya Peer Educator Open Challenge
On 31 October Peer Educators from Kenya had the opportunity to share experiences with their counterparts from other companies running workplace HIV and wellness programmes through the Kenya Peer Educator Open Challenge. The national Peer Educator exchange programme was organised by the National Organisation of Peer Educators and was also a team building exercise strengthening relationships between company teams. Six companies from the SWHAP network participated in the activities winning a trophy during one of the challenges.
Fund Raising Car Wash
Peer Educators from Atlas Copco Tanzania came up with a fun way of raising money for a children’s home regularly supported by the company. The Peer Educators raised over US$700 through a fund raising car wash and safety shoe polishing exercise. The money as well as clothes food items collected by the Peer Educators during the course of the year was presented to the orphanage on 5 October.
The 18th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) was held in Harare Zimbabwe between 29 November and 4 December. The theme of the conference “AIDS in the post 2015 era: Linking Leadership, Science & Human Rights” looked at the sustainability of the AIDS response and engaging all stakeholders in committing to ending AIDS by 2030.
SWHAP was at the Conference sharing success stories from the companies in its network. On 29 November during a session on expanding the HIV response for women and girls SWHAP shared examples on gender mainstreaming from the workplaces. SWHAP also presented a poster on “Public-Private Partnership: Catalytic approach to sustainable HIV and AIDS workplace programmes”. The poster explored the SWHAP approach and research showing that companies investing in comprehensive wellness management and sexually transmitted infections (STI) programmes as well earlier initiation onto treatment for positive workers could potentially make a 47% saving on the loss that would be incurred if no programme was initiated. The poster cited examples of documented benefits from the companies including a company from the DRC who reported a reduction in medical treatment costs of approximately $100 000 after only two years of participation in the programme. View the poster here.
Peer Educators from SWHAP partner companies in Zimbabwe were at the ICASA Community Village where they conducted an interactive skills building workshop on HIV prevention, treatment advocacy, Prevention of Parent- to- Child Transmission and Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision using the Bridges of Hope Methodology. Peer Educators also promoted VCT and biometric testing uptake at the International Labour Organization stand.
Great discussions emerged during an abstract driven session chaired by SWHAP on “Influencing target HIV prevention among vulnerable populations”. The key messages from the session were:
- To achieve the 90-90-90 targets interventions must not leave anyone behind. Strategies (biomedical and behaviour change) must include prisoners, sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM) and people who use drugs (PWUD).
- Stigma and discrimination must be addressed.
- Engagement of communities on risk perceptions must be an ongoing exercise along with the promotion of consistent and correct condom use particularly in high prevalence settings.
On 7 December SWHAP in South Africa participated in a workshop on social compacting (dialogue) organised by the Embassy of Sweden in South Africa. The interactive workshop explored the potentials and benefits as well as risk and barriers for social compacts between employers, workers and government.
During the workshop Ms. Loa Brynjulfsdottir, International Secretary of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation, and Ms. Sofia Vahlne, Head of Labour Affairs at Scania AB (automotive manufacturing company), shared their experiences from Sweden.
The SWHAP model for addressing HIV and wellness at the workplace – based on the close cooperation of management, employees and unions – creates the right conditions that allow for increased understanding, trust, communication and cooperation around not only health and wellness but other issues affecting the workplace.
Continuing with its Youth Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) community outreach programme, Sandvik Mining and Construction Zimbabwe held an industry exposure workshop for 46 students from the Bindura SOS Children’s Village Secondary School. The purpose of the half-day exercise was to give the children career guidance and exposure to Sandvik’s operations. Managing Director Ian Bagshaw and Human Resources Manager Patricia Munetsi were on hand to explain the Sandvik Trainee Artisan Programme and highlighted the importance of goal setting and planning for the future. The workshop was coupled with a life skills session where age appropriate information on HIV and AIDS and the importance of delaying sexual debut were shared.
HIV and AIDS is disproportionately affecting young people. There are more than two million young people (10-19 year old) living with HIV and about one in seven of all new HIV infections occur during adolescence (UNFPA). This group faces barriers to accessing friendly sexual reproductive health services and information. Initiatives such as this help to empower young people to protect themselves from HIV. Moreover investments in youth health and education create opportunities for developing a skilled and healthy labour force who can contribute to sustained economic growth.