Please click on the link for the latest newsletter September 2015 Newsletter.
Peer Educators at the Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show
Peer Educators from five Lusaka based companies, Scania Hazida, ABB, Bayport, Atlas Copco and SKF, were involved in outreach at the Zambia Agricultural Show during the first week of August. The Peer Educators shared information on health, distributed condoms and encouraged people to take-up health services being offered by the Ministry of Health and other partners at the show.
Scanlink Driver Outreach
Scanlink Zimbabwe, a Scania dealer, continues to use the company Driver Training Programme to reach out to vulnerable communities. Between June and July this year the company trained over 400 Zimbabwe Republic Police members on HIV and wellness and the correct use of both male and female condoms. The Driver Training Programme at Scanlink is offered as an aftersales service where drivers are equipped with information and skills on product knowledge, economical driving, defensive driving, HIV and wellness. Scania has realised that drivers general health impacts on their ability to do their jobs and that sexually transmitted infections, HIV and AIDS are a growing concern in the transport industry with drivers especially at risk.
Between 14 and 15 July SWHAP in conjunction with the International Labour Organization hosted a two day workshop enabling stakeholders from the Engineering, Iron and Steel Industry of Zimbabwe to review the draft sectoral HIV, AIDS and TB Policy. The draft policy will be circulated within all stakeholder structures for validation with policy launch and dissemination planned for the end of the year.
The SWHAP model promotes partnership between employers and trade unions in addressing HIV at the workplace. An evaluation of SWHAP in 2013 found that an added value of the programme has been that this collaboration between unions and employers has built trust among parties and led to platforms for discussion on other matters of mutual interest.
We are used to bargaining and working together, but this policy drafting exercise has really cemented relationships and reflects the way in which we shall move together side by side. It is a good indicator of things to come even in the future and when we are bargaining for wages and other conditions of service.
Mr Wise Garira, President National Engineering Workers Union
The development of an HIV and AIDS policy for this sector is a new dawn that exhibits the extent to which HIV and AIDS have impacted productivity. It is on this basis that the policy seeks to improve productivity by way of reducing absenteeism that comes as a result of sickness, opportunistic infections and diseases. I am thrilled by the kind of working together exhibited during this workshop, it showed elements of maturity and understanding that the conflict approach is not the solution in getting things done but it is a pluralistic approach and zeal to respect each other’s opinions that gets you results. We could not tell who was trade union or employer.
Mr Ntando Thabangu, National Secretary, Engineering Iron and Steel Association of Zimbabwe
Congratulations to Servco, Dairy Hill Investments and Securico mentee companies from the second round of the Sandvik Zimbabwe Supply Chain Programme who launched their policies in July and August. During the launch ceremonies drama groups explained the policies to assembled employees and VCT and biometric testing was conducted. 208 employees learnt their HIV status. At Servco management led by example with the Managing Director, who at 65 was testing for the first time, remarking “I had many opportunities at different workplaces to test, but never took the opportunity. This time I wanted to lead by example.”
Welcome to SSAB South Africa who launched their workplace programme at the end of July. Within a three week period the company conducted a Knowledge Attitude Behaviours and Practices (KABP) survey, programme launch and wellness day achieving a 68% VCT uptake on their first VCT. 85% of the employees were trained on HIV and wellness and completed a personal health risk assessment profile.
Workplace HIV and Wellness policies are integral to the private sector HIV response as they recognise HIV and AIDS as a workplace issue and ensure, the provision of education, information sharing, confidentiality, access to medical treatment and support services for all employees. Under these policies HIV positive employees are accorded the same rights, facilities, benefits and opportunities as those with other serious or life threatening illnesses.
Wellness days are an important component of risk management strategies. They help to ensure that organisations are continually aware of their disease burden and that employees have access to the treatment and support they need. Between June and August wellness days were held at SAAB, SSAB, Scania Namibia, and at Ericsson and Tigo in the DRC. Over 246 employees participated in in the wellness screening.
As part of a comprehensive health and safety programme Tigo also offered emergency first aid training to their management staff and all sensitisation and testing was organised around sporting activities in order to promote active and positive living. 153 employees at Tigo updated their wellness risk profiles.
In July UD Trucks in South Africa held a Men’s Health Indaba. This was an opportunity for the male employees in the company to discuss and receive information on their general and sexual health. 90% of the male employees attended the sessions, where the on-site clinic sister provided biometric and HIV testing. CareWorks was also engaged to provide advocacy on the benefits of medical male circumcision which include reduction in the risk of female-to-male sexual transmission of HIV by 60% and reduction of cervical cancer risk in the female partners of circumcised men.
Congratulations to Sandvik Tanzania Peer Educators for hosting a successful youth football tournament reaching over 4000 spectators in Mwanza with information on HIV and wellness. The objective of the tournament was to promote risk and status awareness amongst the youth. The tournament was held over a three month period ending on 19 July. In the run-up to matches Sandvik Peer Educators moved through the Msalala-Mwanza community, educating and mobilising participants for testing through a PA system connected to their vehicle. During the final match 841 people were counselled and tested for HIV with referrals to medical services made where necessary. Along with the youth participating in the tournament, teachers from nearby schools, small-scale miners, traders and farmers were some of the people tested. Integrating HIV testing and biometric screening with the football tournament was a successful strategy motivating many people especially youth between the ages of 15 to 25 to access testing and non-communicable disease screening.
The tournament was part of a partnership between SWHAP and the International Labour Organization (ILO) promoting the VCT@Work initiative which aims to increasing access to counselling, testing and treatment to workers, their families and communities.
HemoCue Kenya in partnership with a local organisation conducted awareness and testing for diabetes at Strathmore University reaching 1360 staff and students of the University. This figure represented a 400% increase in the numbers tested in previous years. Providing opportunities for testing is important as 62% of people in Africa remain undiagnosed and are at a higher risk of developing complications (International Diabetes Federation). The complications of Type 2 Diabetes which include heart disease, stroke, blindness, lower limb amputations, and kidney failure are expensive to treat but can largely be avoided through early detection, treatment adherence and lifestyle changes.
Addressing the modifiable risk factors of diabetes is also of benefit to those affected by other communicable and non-communicable diseases including HIV as preventative steps in relation to nutrition and lifestyle changes can assist in keeping the immune system healthy.
On August 24 Sandvik Zambia welcomed the Swedish Delegation of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (AAPG) on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) and Sida Regional Office at their offices in Kitwe. The Swedish All-Party Parliamentary Group follows the SRHR agenda nationally and internationally. The APPG identifies, raises awareness and advocates the SRHR agenda mainly within the Swedish foreign policy and development cooperation policy.
During the visit Sandvik shared their experiences of running a successful HIV and Wellness programme and how the programme is addressing gender issues within the workplace and surrounding communities. Many methods are used to impart information at workplace and community level including a drama developed by Sandvik Peer Educators illustrating: the linkage between gender-based violence (GBV) and HIV, the impact at family level and how communities can respond in such situations. Activities addressing gender at Sandvik are informed and guided by the Sandvik Group Diversity Management Policy.
Sandvik also pioneered spousal Peer Education training, where the spouses of employees receive training on HIV and AIDS enabling them to become behaviour change advocates in their families and communities. A component of the programme involves training in catering and tailoring empowering the spouses by providing additional sources of income and platforms for further discussion on health matters. Through the spouse Peer Educators Sandvik is reaching audiences that it would not ordinarily have access to. The spousal programme has since been replicated by other companies within the SWHAP network in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Parliamentary Group commended Sandvik for its efforts and encouraged Sandvik and SWHAP to look at enhancing collaborative partnerships with local non-governmental organisations to further improve the response to GBV and SRHR.
Sandvik Zambia received catalytic programme start-up support from SWHAP between 2005 and 2008. Seven years on and Sandvik’s workplace programme has not only been sustained but has grown dramatically in scope and reach.
SWHAP South Africa in collaboration with the Tirisano Centre at the University of South Africa (UNISA) hosted a two day workshop on “Unpacking Gender and Sexual Diversity in the Workplace”. The workshop is part of a pilot programme on Mainstreaming Gender and Sexual Diversity Management within HIV and Wellness Workplace Programmes, the objective of which is to contribute to sustainable and transformative business. The proposed three phase programme will take companies through: gender auditing to determine gaps in current policies and programmes, the development, implementation and monitoring of effective strategies and finally an impact evaluation process. Currently the project will focus on the first phase, namely the development of the gender auditing tool and identification of gaps in policies and programmes.
The workshop was attended by representatives from 10 companies from the SWHAP network in South Africa, the International Labour Organization, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, AIDS Rights Alliance of Southern Africa and service providers.
Following on from the workshop SWHAP was invited by the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) to share the progress of the Mainstreaming Strategy and the partnership between SWHAP and NUMSA at a workshop for the Union’s Gender Coordinators. Additionally various companies within the SWHAP network have started using the questionnaire that was provided at the workshop to pilot the project in their respective companies.
Gender and sexual diversity in the workplace affects all the core areas of business and left unaddressed can put both companies and communities in socio-economic vulnerability to issues like HIV, violence and poverty. This affects the bottom line of business including the day-to-day operations and sustainability of companies. The programme should assist workplaces in a more consistent approach to gender mainstreaming of their HIV and wellness programmes that is also integrated within other core areas of business.