Congratulations to Ian Bagshaw, Managing Director of Sandvik Zimbabwe who completed the gruelling Ironman Challenge in a time of 12 hours, nine minutes and 26 seconds. The Ironman Triathlon is a long distance race consisting of a 3.8 km swim, 180km bike ride and 42.2km run. Ian Bagshaw was fortunate to bepart of “Team Smiddy” (www.smiddy.org.au) an amazing group of people that raise funds for research into the causes, prevention and improved treatments of cancer. Raising the profile of cancer is a cause close to the hearts of those at Sandvik. In the last two years the Sandvik HIV and Wellness programme has supported two members of staff who were diagnosed with cancer to full recovery. The two employees are now cancer ambassadors at Sandvik sharing information on the importance of regular check- ups and early detection.
Ian Bagshaw at the Ironman Triathlon in Perth Australia
In more news from Sandvik Zimbabwe, the company launched their second supply chain programme in February. Three companies, Servcor, Dairyhill and Bindura Nickel will be mentored by Sandvik to set up HIV and Wellness programmes. At a recent management sensitisation session, management from the supply chain companies expressed their excitement about the programme’s focus on promoting proactive health seeking behaviours amongst their respective workforces.
On the 22nd of February Revco Peer Educators provided training on potato sack farming and HIV and wellness outreach to 284 ward councillors in Zvishavane, Zimbabwe. This was at the invitation of the Senator for Midlands, Lillian Timveous, who is also the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on HIV and AIDS.
The Revco Peer Educators presented information on the major drivers of HIV and conducted Bridges of Hope exercises. 6000 male condoms and 300 female condoms were distributed in the beer halls and night clubs surrounding the training venue. Information and posters on human trafficking were also distributed. This is amid concerns that the declining socio-economic situation in Zimbabwe is fuelling human trafficking with many young women being lured into the commercial sex trade.
This community outreach initiative is an extension of the Revco HIV & AIDS and Wellness Programme. Increasingly workplace programmes are looking at health in a holistic manner, addressing factors influencing physical, psychological and societal health, recognising that good health is not just the absence of disease. Part of this focus also includes financial health an important aspect of wellness. Revco Peer Educators use potato sack farming training (a low cost initiative that boots household food security as well as generating extra income) as platform for sharing information on health and wellness.
Kedious Mphiningo from Revco talking to participants in Zvishavane
Religion has a significant impact on how we seek medical care and how we respond to health promotion messages. While a value and belief system is important for health and well-being, certain religious practices can play a negative role in how individuals seek medical care and adhere to treatment regimes. Some religious sects in Southern Africa have created barriers to open discussion on HIV, denouncing the use of anti-retrovirals and calling for faith healing, whilst others believe and teach that HIV is a curse from God. These practices reinforce stigma within communities, one of the biggest challenges when it comes to addressing HIV and AIDS.
Junior Ndimande a Peer Educator from ABB, recently conducted an outreach in his community to promote dialogue about HIV, stigma and discrimination. His message to the community was that HIV is not a curse but a disease requiring treatment! Prayer and treatment can be complimentary.
Distributing information during the awareness session
Churches have an important role to play in promoting responsible behaviour without being judgmental especially in sub- Saharan Africa where faith based organisations provide up to 70% of healthcare. (WHO)
After the success and popularity of the 2013 Christmas Road Safety and Wellness Campaign, Scania South Africa in partnership with SWHAP and other stakeholders is running another campaign over the period leading up to the Easter weekend. The Scania Easter Road Safety and Wellness Campaign will be from the 14th to 17th of April and will offer wellness checks for bus and truck drivers as well as free vehicle inspections by Scania technicians.
The campaign will be on the N1 (North and South directions) at selected Shell Ultra City service stations in Polokwane. This route is especially important during Easter as one of the largest Christian gatherings in South Africa takes place at Zion City in Moria near Polokwane. Each year more than 20 000 buses pass through the Polokwane area as members of the Zion Christian Church travel to and from their church headquarters at Zion City for the Easter services. This is a big service with many congregants coming from other Southern African countries.
Buses parked at Zion City
Bus and truck drivers passing through these routes will have access to wellness and HIV tests, with referrals for further treatment and follow-up being made where necessary.
Road safety amongst truck and bus drivers in South Africa is of major concern due to high death rates resulting from trucks and buses not adhering to the requirements regarding correct roadworthiness. Additionally due to poor lifestyle and difficult working conditions, often the truck drivers themselves have health conditions that are undiagnosed or not managed. This increases the risk of accidents on the roads, due to ill health and fatigue while driving. High levels of blood pressure and higher than average levels of HIV infection have been reported amongst this group. Through this community outreach initiative targeting driver’s health, Scania is contributing to making the roads safer during the Easter period.
The focus of World Health Day this year is vector-borne diseases. Vector-borne diseases include malaria, dengue, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, schistosomiasis and yellow fever and are carried by mosquitoes, bugs, ticks, flies, freshwater snails and other vectors. According to the World Health Organisation more than half of the world’s population is at risk of these diseases. Apart from untold suffering, these diseases are also responsible for decreased productivity, employee absenteeism and increased health-care costs.
Poor hygiene and poor water and waste management are contributing factors to most common vector-borne diseases. This makes an integrated approach using a range of interventions such as treated bed-nets, indoor residual spraying, awareness raising programmes, water and waste management necessary for prevention and control. Workplaces are an important arena to raise awareness on the vector-borne diseases and to support national intervention and control programmes. Workplace HIV and Wellness Programmes within the SWHAP network have embraced a comprehensive approach to wellness addressing environmental factors that put employees and their families at risk of disease. Companies such as Atlas Copco in Zambia run programmes ensuring access to safer water supplies whilst in Zimbabwe, Sandvik champions environmental awareness and clean-up operations in its community.
Malaria takes a high toll in regions hard hit by HIV and AIDS as it has been proven to worsen the effects of HIV and AIDS and vice versa. Many SWHAP supported companies, particularly in Zambia and DRC include malaria prevention in their workplace programme as a strategy to mitigate the impact of malaria. Treated bed-nets are distributed to employees and their families in areas where malaria is a problem. Companies report significant reduction in absenteeism as a result of both the HIV and malaria programmes. Programmes also extend into communities with some companies supporting national intervention programmes.
Environmental awareness campaign at Sandvik Zimbabwe
Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis which most commonly affects the lungs. TB is easily spread from person to person via droplets in the air when a person with the active respiratory disease coughs or sneezes. As much as one third of the world’s population has latent TB, which means they have been infected by the bacteria but do not have the active tuberculosis disease. In 2012 1.3 million people died of TB, 95% of these deaths occurred in low to medium income countries (WHO). TB mostly affects the productive segment of society with serious economic consequences. An employee with TB may lose an average of 3-4 months of work and income. As for businesses operating in high prevalence settings, TB is bad news, as sick workers mean reduced productivity, absenteeism and associated costs (Stop TB).
The good news is that TB is treatable and curable for a relatively low cost. The workplace is an ideal arena to raise public awareness on the disease and ensure that employees suffering from the disease have access to screening and treatment. Prompt diagnosis and early treatment is beneficial as it curbs absenteeism and reduces the likelihood of transmission to other workers.
Workplace HIV and wellness programmes within the SWHAP network are working towards addressing the many factors that contribute to the health and wellbeing of employees at the workplace. TB management is integrated into HIV and wellness programmes. The risk of TB is greater in people suffering from conditions that impair the immune system such as HIV (TB is the major cause of death among people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa). Moreover there is evidence of links between TB and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. Employees within the SWHAP network are educated on modifiable risk factors impacting health such as nutrition, exercise, avoidance of alcohol and smoking. Disease management and employee support programmes mean that employees with TB have greater opportunities for early diagnosis, treatment and receiving support within the workplace. Support is an important element in addressing TB as treatment can take up to nine months with adherence being essential for avoiding multi-drug resistant TB.
Elements of a workplace TB Programme
TB workplace programmes should:
Be integrated into existing workplace HIV and/ or wellness programmes
Offer opportunities for diagnosis
Include programmes that address stigma and raise awareness
Provide treatment at the workplace either through an in house programme or collaboration with the public health systems
Ensure a healthy working environment that is well ventilated and free from dust
Offer support programmes for employees on treatment
Reach out to families of employees through medical insurance and or improved access to the public health system
International Women’s day celebrated on the 8th of March is a time to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas. According to the World Bank, gender equity is key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, “putting resources into poor women’s hands while promoting gender equity in households and society results in large development payoffs”.
Poverty and gender inequality are some of the factors contributing to the spread and greatest impact of HIV.Two workplace programme coordinators from the SWHAP network share their perspectives on the theme for International Women’s Day, “Equality for women is progress for all”:
Claire Mawana, Programme Coordinator, Ericsson DRC
“Equality for women is progress for all”. What does this mean for you?
This is an opportunity for women to prove their capabilities and show their potential to contribute to development in their communities. The same opportunities must be given to all, both men and women, to contribute in promoting health at the workplace, implementing mechanisms for prevention and sustainable workplace programmes and to address diseases which are specific to women.
How have you been working to promote gender equity in your workplace programme?
I had the opportunity to be part of the steering committee which was appointed to implement the programme last year, and by working hard, proving that what matters is not gender but what you can contribute towards successful programme implementation, I am now coordinating the programme for 2014.
How have you been working to promote gender equity in your workplace programme?
Through our community outreach programme we have initiated a micro lending “Wellness and Banking Club” for unemployed women in our community. Women meet and pool their resources together and borrow against that fund to start income generating projects. The Wellness and Banking Club is also a platform for participants to learn information about health and wellness. Participants gather on the last Saturday of each month for workshops on topics such as HIV, financial wellness, self-esteem, women in leadership, as well as technical assistance on running businesses.
Is gender equity important for men?
Yes, gender equity is not just important but beneficial for men. Some of the problems that our nation is facing will fall away, for example poverty, if gender equity is promoted. I strongly believe in the 2014 theme, there must be equality in positions and resource allocation. Once we all see each other as equal, then progress really begins.