Please click on the link for the latest newsletter June 2015 Newsletter
Peer Educators’ network training creates platforms for sharing and transfer of experiences, knowledge and skills. Peer Educators through the network training get an opportunity to share best practices and benchmark effective strategies for workplace programmes. Between April and May over 140 Peer Educators attended training in DRC, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. During meetings training focused on raising awareness on communicable and non-communicable diseases and promoting early detection and treatment. Peer Educators were encouraged to create strategic partnerships with local organisations promoting health and wellness as part of cost sharing strategies and means to enhance workplace programmes. Following on from the SWHAP training, 20 Peer Educators from South Africa attended a conference on Tuberculosis (TB) assessment and care. The conference was part of a programme by the South African Business Coalition on Health and AIDS (SABCOHA) to eradicate TB from the workplace.
Over 100 spouse Peer Educators received training in March and May in Zambia and Zimbabwe respectively. The broader aim of the training programme was to encourage spouses to take responsibility for their health and wellness. Spouses in Zimbabwe discussed HIV prevention, effects of gender based violence on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and managing alcoholism and substance abuse. In Zambia, where spouses have embarked on successful income generating projects, the emphasis of the training was on building appropriate practical skills that address financial wellness. Discussions highlighted the importance of financial management at personal and business level and saving and investment strategies. As a result of the training participants were able to identify challenges affecting their businesses and to suggest strategies to address those challenges. SWHAP is looking at options of further enhancing the entrepreneurial skills of the spouses in order to improve business literacy and promote financial wellness.
To mark World Day for Safety and Health at Work, celebrated on 28 April each year, SWHAP partners in east and southern Africa promoted the rights of employees to work in a safe and healthy working environment. Tigo Tanzania held a health and safety week, from 26 April to 30 April where 260 employees participated in voluntary counselling and testing. Whilst Atlas Copco Kenya focused their attention on road safety with messages targeting pedestrians and motorists during morning rush hour along Mombasa Road, where their offices are located. The company also held a defensive driving session during lunchtime for employees. Road safety was also an issue of concern for Atlas Copco Zimbabwe who invited a representative from the Traffic Safety Council to address employees. Employees also participated in various team building activities.
Since 2004 SWHAP has been supporting companies of Swedish origin and their supply chains to develop and implement workplace HIV and wellness programmes in order to reduce HIV prevalence, promote prevention strategies and more recently manage non-communicable diseases. To enhance the impact of the programme, prevention, care and support activities were extended to the spouses through spousal training. During these training sessions it was observed that employees and their spouses faced challenges in communicating sexual and reproductive health issues with their teenage children. This is an issue of great concern and stress to parents as many young people receive conflicting information from the media and their peers, affecting their decision making processes and putting them at risk for; sexually transmitted infections, HIV, too early or unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion and violence. Moreover AIDS is the leading cause of death in adolescents in Africa and adolescents are the only age group in which deaths due to AIDS are not decreasing (UNAIDS). Providing age appropriate information on sex and sexuality is important in enabling youth to view their sexuality in a positive way and to make responsible choices.
Various programmes targeted at the children of employees within the SWHAP network are seeking to bridge this gap in communication. In early May SWHAP partnered with Sandvik in Zimbabwe to combine information and communication technology (ICT) skills training with Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) training for 20 teenagers during their school holidays. Sandvik donated 100 ICT training hours and provided the training venue to equip the young people with skills vital for improving employment opportunities. SWHAP through a local service provider facilitated SRHR training which included sexuality, self-esteem, dealing with peer pressure and HIV and sexually transmitted infections.
This programme is easily replicable with similar programmes having been implemented last year at Ericsson and Tetra Pak in Kenya. Employees and their spouses also receive guidance on communicating with their children on all aspects of health during network training and at wellness days.
In commemoration of International Workers Day on 1 May, SWHAP partnered with the International Labour Organization (ILO), in Kenya and South Africa to promote decent work for all workers and to provide opportunities for HIV and wellness testing with appropriate referrals for treatment, care and support.
In Kenya SWHAP and the ILO partnered with the Private Sector Partners on HIV/AIDS (PSPA) and the Central Organization of Trade Unions Kenya (COTU), in celebrations at Uhuru Park, Nairobi where they provided access to Voluntary Counselling and Testing for over 1000 people. SWHAP partners in Kenya (companies currently and previously supported by the programme) staffed branded exhibition booths displaying and sharing information on their workplace programmes. Whilst in South Africa SWHAP, ILO and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), collaborated to provide access to free wellness (inclusive of HIV) screening for workers. This took place at two of NUMSA’s rallies held in Durban and Johannesburg concurrently. The provincial departments of health in the respective provinces and other non-governmental organisations where mobilised to do all the clinical screening and testing at the two rallies.
SWHAP supported workplace programmes are aligned to the ILO’s HIV and AIDS Recommendation (No. 200) which ensures confidentiality of employee HIV status, protects against stigma and discrimination and upholds employee rights. SWHAP is part of the ILO’s Inter Agency Task Team on HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy/Programmes and Private Sector Engagement, and supports campaigns such as, “Getting to Zero at Work” and “VCT@Work”.
Over three billion people are at risk of malaria infection (WHO) making the disease a major health challenge. Malaria is also taking a high toll in regions hard hit by HIV and AIDS as the disease increases HIV viral load. In endemic countries, the disease is responsible for decreased productivity, employee absenteeism and increased health care costs. Furthermore malaria infection among employees can have a wider impact on the local and national economy as the overall labour force is weakened by sickness, commerce is slowed, investments and tax revenues are reduced and public health budgets are diminished.
With an estimated US$3.6 billion funding gap slowing down the progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria (www.worldmalariaday.org), the private sector through workplace wellness programmes has an important role to play in helping to bridging this gap. Moreover as the African Union has called for increased domestic resource allocation to address AIDS, TB and Malaria, the private sector will increasingly be called on to partner with national governments to play its part in contributing to the achievement of universal access to health care for all.
According to the World Economic Forum addressing malaria through the workplace can:
- Address risks to human resources and assets/ capital
- Enable market opportunities
- Enhance tangible assets such as corporate morale, reputation and goodwill
Companies need to ask 10 key questions to determine strategic action on malaria:
- What is our credible self-interest? (How do we benefit?)
- What is the value proposition? (How do others benefit?)
- How we will establish sufficiency? (How much is enough?)
- How can we manage our involvement to create a measurable result in business terms?
- What is the overall road map?
- How can we set appropriate expectations?
- Where can we contribute uniquely?
- Where can we partner complimentarily? (Trade unions, civil society organisations, public health services)
- How can we start small and scale up based on key learnings?
- Who will provide credible, sustainable leadership for the corporation?
Many companies within the SWHAP network include malaria prevention and control programmes in their workplace HIV and Wellness programmes. These programmes are run through HIV and wellness committees with representatives from both management and employees. To commemorate World Malaria Day Atlas Copco Tanzania visited Antulabai Clinic at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital in Dar es Salaam on April 30. 150 mosquito nets were distributed to more than 90 pregnant women and 30 children under five who were at the clinic. Pregnant women and children under five are considered at high risk of contracting malaria. Officials at the clinic were presented with key holders, bottle openers and water bottles as tokens of appreciation for the hard work they do in the prevention and treatment of Malaria. Atlas Copco also distributed treated bed nets to its workforce of 110 employees. Ericsson in the DRC combined their Labour Day celebrations with raising awareness on malaria. Rapid diagnosis malaria tests were provided for all staff and treatment made where necessary. Additionally all employees received treated bed nets.
Scania South Africa was the winner of the SWHAP Achievement Award for Most Comprehensive Programme 2014. As part of the prize Simo Gama, a Peer Educator from the company, travelled to Sweden to showcase the programme. Simo shared best practice and insights into the programme’s success during a meeting at Sandvik and with some participants at the IndustriALL Global Union Executive Committee meeting. Scania is running a comprehensive HIV and wellness programme where over 90% of the company are aware of their HIV status and 80% of positive employees are on treatment.
“Scania is a premium brand, so anything but premium employees would be wrong. In order to perform at work you need to live a balanced life and eat and sleep well. If you have any health issues they need to be addressed. I encourage my colleagues to go to health screenings and to take command over their own life. I have noticed remarkable improvements since Scania implemented its health programme.”
Follow the link to read more on the Scania workplace programme and Simo’s experiences in Sweden.
World Health Day observed on April 7 each year celebrates the founding of the World Health Organization in 1948. Each year a theme is chosen to raise awareness on a specific public health concern. This year the theme was Food Safety. Unsafe food is linked to the deaths of an estimated two million people each year. Unsafe food can lead to many health issues such as “diarrhoeal diseases, viral disease, reproductive and developmental problems and cancers” (WHO). Improper food handling can cause infection in all people, but HIV infected individuals are at greater risk of food-borne illness as their immune systems are compromised. Good nutrition including safe handling of food is therefore an important determinant of health. Good nutrition in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle preserves health, improves quality of life and delays disease progression.
Workplace HIV and wellness programmes that promote food safety and good nutrition can create a healthier workforce whilst also reducing unnecessary health care costs. Information shared at the workplace also has a multiplier effect as employees share information with their families and communities. The World Health Organization advocates “Five Keys to Safer Food” which include:
- Keep everything clean, wash hands utensils and cutting boards with soap and water after each use.
- Separate raw and cooked food
- Cook food thoroughly
- Cook food at safe temperatures
- Use safe water and raw materials
Download the poster here to share with colleagues in the workplace. Let’s all do our part to ensure the food on our plates is safe to eat.
Please click on the link for the latest newsletter March 2015 Newsletter