Malaria mortality rates may have fallen by more than 33% in Africa since 2000 (World Health Organisation) but the disease still causes 660,000 deaths globally per annum, and with 91% of these deaths occurring in Africa, malaria continues to be a significant threat. Malaria is also bad for business. The disease is responsible for decreased productivity, employee absenteeism and increased health care costs. The disease is thought to cost Africa an estimated USD 12 billion a year in lost GDP due to its debilitating effects (Roll Back Malaria). Additionally, malaria has proven to worsen the effects of HIV and AIDS, and vice versa, as both diseases interact negatively with each other.
Several SWHAP supported companies have now included malaria prevention in their workplace HIV&AIDS and Wellness programmes. The actions taken to prevent malaria include distribution of treated bed nets to employees and raising awareness at company and community level. These cost effective interventions have proven to be a great success, with companies in Zambia reporting a significant reduction in absenteeism as a result of both the HIV and malaria programmes.
Distributing bed nets at Amazon Motors Kenya
SWHAP supported companies will join the World Health Organisation and other actors in observing World Malaria Day on the 25th of April by raising awareness and distributing treated bed nets to their employees. The theme of World Malaria Day, Invest in the future. Defeat Malaria highlights the need for continued action. To read more on how SWHAP partners are investing in a future free from malaria please follow the link.
The first South African Champion’s Network Workshop for 2013 kicked off in March focusing on the correlation of social, physical and psychological health. This was a very intensive workshop led by a practising psychologist. Participants discussed the mental health and psychological challenges faced by people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) and how these symptoms can be recognised and the correct assistance given. Participants were also given an insight into the counselling needs of PLWHA as they often experience a disproportionate amount of distress in relation to their diagnosis and may struggle to cope with the demands that the virus places upon them. Significantly, PLWHA generally do not receive care and support beyond Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT). Whilst this is a crucial element in the process of assisting PLWHA additional mental health support should include emotional as well as crises management for optimal enhancement of quality of life.
From right to left: Simonsakhe Ngema and Abram Rantao (Scania) and Vania Milton (Ericsson)
Sandvik Zimbabwe was recently invited to share their Wellness Programme with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) partners in Zimbabwe. GIZ have implemented an HIV and AIDS workplace programme for their personnel and are looking to venture into wellness. Sandvik partnered with SWHAP in 2007 to address HIV and AIDS in their workplace, the HIV and AIDS workplace programme expanded over the years to include wellness, based on the belief that productivity was not only linked to physical well-being but also to mental, social and spiritual well-being. Addressing HIV & AIDS and wellness has become an integral part of business at Sandvik with wellness as a key performance indicator for management. For Sandvik workplace wellness is seen as a business strategy that should attract and retain employees.
SWHAP encourages networking and sharing of experiences and lessons learnt among its partners and external actors in the field of HIV & AIDS and Wellness.
In March, CEO forums were organized in Botswana and Tanzania, bringing together various stakeholders to network, share experiences and best practices. On the 14th of March, SWHAP in Southern Africa in conjunction with the Botswana Business Coalition on AIDS (BBCA) held a breakfast seminar for CEOs and managers from SWHAP partners as well as BBCA member companies. The theme of the seminar held in Gaborone was “HIV/AIDS & Wellness Programmes – Business Strategic Response”, the objective of which was to sensitise management on the value addition of workplace HIV & AIDS and Wellness programmes to the business bottom line. SWHAP shared its achievements in implementing workplace HIV and AIDS programmes and presented the programmes’ transition towards workplace wellness. From 2013 the SWHAP programme will take a broader approach to scaling up the response to HIV and AIDS, looking at physical, psychological and societal health linked to HIV and AIDS. This will create a programme that not only has a wider impact but is also more effective.
In Tanzania, SWHAP partnered with the Tripartite Plus Forum for a CEO forum. The Tripartite Forum brings together business associations, trade unions, the ILO as well as the government, and is well regarded in Tanzania for its coordination of the HIV and AIDS response in the private sector.
SWHAP supported workplaces usually establish steering committees to run HIV and Wellness workplace programmes in companies. SWHAP conducted steering committee training in Tanzania this month focusing on identifying interventions for chronic diseases in the workplace. Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes contribute to 60% of deaths worldwide with 80% occurring in developing countries (WHO). Over the next 20 years NCDs will cost over US$30 trillion and are a threat to productivity in the workplace and to national development and economic growth. (World Economic Forum)
Non-communicable diseases impact the immune system and cause complications in the treatment of HIV and people living with HIV have an increased risk of contracting NCDs. Major chronic diseases share common risk factors such as poor nutrition, physical inactivity, obesity, tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption. Interventions to control these risk factors can address many non-communicable diseases. Employers are in a good position to help their employees through raising awareness and promoting positive life style changes and healthy eating habits. Moreover this makes business sense as interventions through workplace wellness programmes have been shown to reduce health costs and enhance employee productivity. At the training in Tanzania, steering committee members were tested for Body Mass Index (BMI). The results were a surprise for the participants as over 50% were found to have a BMI over the healthy range with 18.75% being obese. A BMI above the healthy range can put individuals at increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, stroke, infertility and some cancers. Those affected committed to changes in lifestyle including increasing physical activity.
This example from Tanzania highlights the importance of workplace wellness programmes in raising awareness of health concerns facing employees. From 2013 SWHAP will take a broader approach to addressing HIV and AIDS through wellness.
Measuring BMI during the Dar es Salaam workshop
Please click on the link for the latest newsletter March 2013 Newsletter
Please click on the link for the latest newsletter January 2013 Newsletter
The ILO (International Labour Organisation) recently launched a campaign entitled “Getting to Zero at Work” recognising the important role that workplaces play in addressing the impact of HIV and AIDS. The 2012 theme for World AIDS Day was Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS- related deaths. An ambitious goal but with the concerted efforts of employers and employees getting to zero is possible. Already some SWHAP partner workplaces in South Africa can report that since 2006 no-one that tested negative later tested positive, and that there were no reported HIV-related deaths in 2012. Whilst discrimination is harder to address or measure, SWHAP is proud of the efforts of many of its Peer Educators who publicly disclose their HIV positive status for the benefit of their peers. These disclosures are a reflection of successful workplace policies that protect the continuation of employment and create working environments that are free from discrimination.
SWHAP partners commemorate World AIDS Day 2012
Raising awareness in South Africa
OVC outreach in Kenya
Marching in Zambia
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the prevention of HIV infection amongst sex workers can potentially improve the health of the individual sex worker as well as slow HIV and STI transmission in the wider population. SWHAP in partnership with Sandvik Zimbabwe and Zimplats launched an HIV and AIDS prevention and empowerment project for the commercial sex workers in the Mahuswa informal settlements at Zimplats Mine in September 2012. An estimated 80 sex workers live in informal shacks which have become known as Mahuswa close to the mine, making their services available to mine workers who include Sandvik and Atlas Copco employees. The SWHAP partners have 222 employees stationed at Ngezi mine, additionally three of Sandvik’s supply chain partners Hilmax, Battery Doctor and R&S Diesel Pro have 50 employees between them also working at the mine. Monthly records published by the Zimplats clinic show that Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) at the mine can be as high as 121 cases in a month pointing towards a highly vulnerable community given the linkages between STIs and HIV infection.
The objectives of this programme are to reduce high risk sexual practices amongst the sex workers and strengthen the prevention of HIV& AIDS and STIs through increasing awareness and access to treatment. HIV and AIDS awareness sessions as well as Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) for the Mahuswa community were held in December 2012 and January this year. 45 sex workers participated in the VCT session. Those who tested positive were enrolled on an Anti-retroviral therapy programme at the mine clinic. 16 female sex workers volunteered and were trained as Peer Educators. The trained Peer Educators were given 2000 male and 2000 female condoms for redistribution to their peers as well as a Peer Educator’s kit with various IEC materials in the vernacular language.
Sandvik has committed to providing seed money for the women to start income generating projects which should provide an alternate source of income and empower the women with bargaining power to negotiate for safer sex with their clients.
Proud Peer Educators holding their certificates
In 2011, Raffia Bags embarked on a mentorship programme with the Athi River Mining Company (Rhino Cement) that saw 30 Peer Educators trained from the mentee company. As part of their on-going support, Raffia Bags conducted a Peer Educator’s exchange in December 2012 during which a soccer competition was held. Peer Educators from both companies shared their achievements and challenges and encouraged each other to maintain programme momentum.
The SWHAP supply chain model is effective in helping companies assist their supply chain in setting up and implementing HIV and AIDS programmes. The model facilitates the sharing of HIV and AIDS knowledge, skills and experiences through the principles of mentorship, participatory learning, networking and on-going support. SWHAP research has found that this continuous support from the mentor company is important to ensure the long term sustainability of HIV and AIDS programmes in the mentee company.
Raffia Bags and Rhino Cement Peer Educators