SWHAP at AIDS 2018

Between 23 – 27 July, SWHAP was in Amsterdam at the International AIDS Conference, joining more than 15 000 researchers, activists, and policymakers from 160 countries. Under the theme “Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges”, AIDS 2018 promoted human rights-based and evidence-informed HIV responses tailored to the needs of vulnerable communities.

SWHAP made an oral presentation in the session on “Money, Money; Dynamic Financing Solutions” discussing the SWHAP catalytic financing model. Follow the link to view the presentation.

From left: SWHAP East Africa Coordinator Daniel Mwaura and SWHAP Programme Assistant Binta Mutale at AIDS 2018

Off to a Good Start

Congratulations to new SWHAP partner ABB Uganda, who organised their first onsite wellness day on 13 June achieving 75% wellness testing uptake. Along with HIV and wellness testing, the company also provided information and screening on Hepatitis B for all employees. According to the Uganda Population-based HIV Impact Assessment Survey (UPHIA), the prevalence of Hepatitis B infection among adults in the country stands at 4.3%. In HIV programmes, Hepatitis B is of concern because of shared modes of transmission (sharing of needles amongst injecting drug users, unprotected sexual contact) a high proportion of adults at risk for HIV infection are also at risk for Hepatitis B infection.

Since 2015 the Government in Uganda has been running a vaccination programme for adolescents and adults. In this way, the efforts at ABB Uganda are complementary to national efforts to eradicate the virus from the country.

Testing at ABB Uganda

In related testing news, during April and May Auto Sueco Namibia, SAAB and Hydroscand held onsite wellness days giving employees access to health screening. Amongst the tests and screening offered were HIV, body mass index, blood sugar and blood pressure. During their wellness day, Hydroscand raised awareness on the importance of health and safety at the workplace through industrial theatre. The managing director led by example by being the first to participate in the health screening. The company achieved over 90% HIV and wellness testing uptake.

SKF Kenya provided the standards tests (during a wellness day held in the second week of June) but also included cervical and prostate cancer screening for its employees. Twenty-one out of twenty-three employees participated in the cancer and HIV screening.

Industrial theatre at Hydroscand in South Africa

Waiting for testing at SAAB South Africa

SKF Zambia Launches Mentorship Programme

Congratulations to SKF Zambia on the launch of their mentorship programme. The launch ceremony was held at SKF on 15 June and was attended by representatives from SWHAP, SKF and the participating mentee companies (including two union chairpersons). During the meeting, SWHAP made a presentation highlighting the programme approach that encourages partnership between management, employees and their trade unions, while SKF shared the highlights of their HIV and wellness programme motivating the mentee companies to get going.

For the rest of the year, SKF will mentor three companies, Strongpak Zambia, Kitwe Surgery and Southern Cross to set up structured HIV and wellness programmes. The next activities will involve onsite employee sensitisations on the benefits of such programmes.

Peer Educator Capacity Building

Peer Educators are an essential part of workplace HIV and wellness programmes.  The work they do, providing support for colleagues, facilitating workplace and community discussions and disseminating information, makes a difference in the lives of their workmates, families and communities. Accordingly, providing regular training is essential to keep Peer Educators up to date on the latest information and themes regarding HIV and non-communicable diseases.

Since the end of March, 43 Peer Educators from Botswana and Zambia had their peer educator knowledge and skills enhanced equipping them to better deal with different wellness issues in the workplace.

Training in Botswana tackled gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual harassment. GBV has been identified as one of the significant drivers of HIV infection. Survivors of violence often experience physical, emotional and psychological trauma. The impact of this violence extends to families and communities and has a negative impact on social and economic development.  It also negatively affects workplace productivity. Work performance of employees that are survivors of GBV often suffers, and motivation and commitment amongst other staff members may also be affected. This can, in turn, affect absenteeism and turnover.

Peer Educators from Botswana

In Zambia, workshops broadened Peer Educator understanding on emerging health challenges faced by employees addressing substance abuse and mental health. Dealing with mental health issues such as depression within workplace programmes is important as depression is more common in people living with chronic conditions such as HIV; rates can be as high as 60%. Depression can result in non-adherence to treatment regimens and sometimes increases high-risk behaviours that transmit HIV infection to other people (www.aidsinfonet.org).

Capacity building in Zambia was conducted through case studies, active group discussions and presentations. In the training evaluation, 87% of participants found the training beneficial citing that they would use it within their workplace peer education activities.

Steering Committee Training for Mombasa Network

SWHAP started the Mombasa Network for companies supported under the Raffia Bags mentorship programme. The Network now includes the following companies: Raffia Bags, Athi River Mining, Shreeji Chemicals, Gold Crown, Krystalline Salt, Atta Limited and Oriflame. Oriflame is not part of Raffia’s mentorship programme but was included as a SWHAP partner with presence in Mombasa.

The network provides a forum for the companies to share experiences and lessons, benchmark, plan for joint activities and receive capacity building on various aspects of their programmes. From these networks, the companies have improved their workplace wellness programmes and conducted joint community outreach programmes.

On 27 April, 57 steering committee representatives from the Network participated in training designed to provide strategies for enhancing innovativeness in workplace HIV programming. During the meeting, Athi River Mining shared how a sexual harassment programme using drama has been instrumental in employees opening up and reporting cases of GBV.

Group discussions in Mombasa

Related articles

Stop GBV in the Workplace

World Health Observance Days

SWHAP partners often use health observance dates to promote wellness, encourage exercise and provide HIV and wellness screening for employees. SWHAP supports and encourages programmes that address HIV and AIDS within a general wellness context. This approach helps in destigmatising HIV and increases testing uptake rates. 

World Hypertension Day

World Hypertension Day is observed every year on 17 May, raising awareness and promoting hypertension prevention, detection and control. High blood pressure is the main risk factor to developing cardiovascular disease. The 2018 theme “Know your numbers” advocated the importance of knowing one’s blood pressure measurement. Globally it is estimated that 1 in 3 adults with hypertension do not know that they have it.

Source: paho.org

SWHAP partners in Tanzania and Zambia commemorated World Hypertension Day providing testing for employees and dependents. Commemorations at Sandvik Tanzania started with a 5-kilometre walk for employees in Nyakato Mwanza which raised awareness on the importance of exercise for general wellbeing and in particular for preventing hypertension. After the walk, medical doctors from Uhuru Hospital explained the importance of knowing one’s blood pressure, and how to prevent and control high blood pressure. This was followed by blood pressure screening.

Doctors addressing workers at Sandvik Tanzania

Similarly, in Zambia, ZAMEFA (a company under the SWHAP and National Union of Building, Engineering and General Workers Union mentorship programme) provided screening for employees and dependents.

Blood pressure screening at ZAMEFA

World Malaria Day

Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria making the disease a major health challenge. In 2016 there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria in 91 countries – an increase of 5 million cases over the previous year (who.org). Most malaria cases and deaths take place in sub- Saharan Africa which is also the region most hard hit by HIV. Malaria increases HIV viral load, while HIV increases the risk of malaria infection. In endemic countries, malaria is responsible for decreased productivity, employee absenteeism and increased health care costs.

On 25 April, SWHAP partners joined the global community in commemorating World Malaria Day through events to mobilise against malaria under the theme “Ready to Beat Malaria”. For example, ZAMEFA commemorated the day by providing access to testing and treatment for its employees and community – 265 people were tested on the day with 24 testing positive for malaria. The activity was done in partnership with the District Health Team. In the DRC, Orange provided sensitisation and testing services for over 150 employees and distributed treated bed nets during the launch of their Health and Safety Week at the end of April.

Malaria Screening at ZAMEFA

Wellness sensitisation at Orange

International Day for Safety and Health 

Epiroc in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe and Orange DRC  also held events to highlight the importance of health and safety at the workplace on International Day for Safety and Health reaching over 200 employees. On-site exercise sessions in Zambia, Zimbabwe and DRC promoted the importance of physical activity for the prevention of non-communicable diseases and general wellbeing.

Working out for health in Zambia

Orange DRC

International Children’s Day – Say no to Child Marriages

As part of their community outreach, Verde Azul in Mozambique shared age-appropriate information on HIV and sexual reproductive health and rights with young people on International Children’s Day celebrated on 1 June. The celebrations were held in Chizavane Community and at Costa do Sol Primary School under the theme “Say no to child marriages”. The objective was to raise awareness on HIV risk factors, the causes and implications of child marriages and advocacy for children’s rights. Knowledge transfer was achieved through interactive activities such as drama, poetry recital, games and quizzes with prizes for the correct answers.

The activities at Costa do Sol Primary School reached 500 pupils and 5 teachers. While the commemorations in the Chizavane Community (held in partnership with Viseco Association) were attended by community leaders, local village chiefs, the Chief of Chizavane Town and the Chief of the Administrative post of Chidenguele. Over 500 students and 200 adults were sensitised on the dangers of child marriages and parents were encouraged to defend the rights of children.

According to Girls Not Brides, nearly 1 in 2 girls in Mozambique are married before their 18th birthday and “married adolescent girls tend to have higher HIV infection rates than their unmarried, sexually active peers.”

Verde Azul Peer Educators worked with a children’s entertainer ensuring the activities were a fun interactive learning experience.

 

International Workers’ Day 2018

International Workers’ Day or Labour Day is commemorated on 1 May to promote the rights of workers and to advocate for decent work worldwide. To mark the day in Kenya, SWHAP collaborated with the International Labour Organization, the Central Organization of Trade Unions Kenya (COTU-K), LVCT Health and Wema Kazini reaching 215 people with wellness and HIV testing during Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park in Nairobi. High testing uptake was achieved as a result of an awareness campaign that included a march from COTU-K headquarters to the park. Through the service provider, appropriate referrals were made for those testing positive for HIV or for those presenting with any other health issues. Additionally, demonstrations for both male and female condoms were conducted during sensitisation talks – in total 14 200 male condoms and 1 000 lubricants were distributed. Information was also shared on sexual networks and how they accelerate the spread of HIV.

Providing quick convenient access to HIV testing was an important initiative for SWHAP to support as HIV continues to be a major public health concern in Kenya with an estimated 1.6 million people living with the virus and a 5.9% prevalence rate amongst adults. HIV and AIDS are thus affecting many Kenyans in the most economically productive periods of their lives.

Wellness tests included eye and TB screening. There was 90% referral of all walk-in clients for TB screening

From left: Daniel Mwaura, SWHAP; Dr Hellen Magutu, ILO; Stanley Ngara, King of Condoms,

Mozambique

In Mozambique, the Steering Committee from Verde Azul Mozambique was on the streets of Maputo talking to the public about HIV transmission and prevention.

The Verde Azul Steering Committee distributed 500 HIV IEC materials and more than 700 male and 215 female condoms

Activities were part of a march organised by trade unions, companies and other workers’ organisations with over 600 employees from different organisations participating.

Leave No One Behind – Discussing SRHR with Children of Employees

SWHAP in Zimbabwe took advantage of the April school holidays to hold a sexual reproductive health and rights workshop for the children of employees in its network. The workshop was held in Harare on 13 and 14 April and provided life skills training for over 30 adolescents – building the children’s capacity to prevent HIV infection, navigate peer pressure, use social media responsibly, and to resist alcohol and drug abuse.  Additionally, the workshop provided a safe interactive platform for the young people to learn facts about HIV and AIDS and related health conditions such as sexually transmitted infections and cancers. They also practised assertive communication skills, learning to say “no” to unwanted advances and to respect when others say “no”.

SWHAP Southern Africa Regional Coordinator, Edith Maziofa-Tapfuma, addressing the young people at the workshop in Harare

The workshop in Harare was attended by children whose parents work at Scanlink, Sandvik, Ericom Communications and Davies Granite (a mentee company under the Ericom Communications mentorship programme)

In Kenya, SKF hosted a workshop for its employees’ children. Over 50 adolescents participated in the workshop where they were exposed to information relevant to their age and social development milestones. The interactive sessions were designed to build self-awareness and to develop goal setting and stress management skills. Such skills help young people to make a safe and healthy transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Youth workshop in Nairobi

In Zambia, training was held on a weekend during the school term in May with 51 participants.

Participants from Zambia pose with facilitators

Young people and adolescents, especially young women and young key populations, continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV (avert.org). In 2016, 610 000 young people were newly infected with HIV, and in the last decade, AIDS-related deaths among adolescents have increased – whilst decreases have been observed in all other age groups (unaids.org). Providing age-appropriate information on sex and sexuality is important in enabling youth to view their sexuality in a positive way and to help them make responsible choices. Through the workplace HIV and wellness programmes, SWHAP aims for a holistic response to HIV that leaves no one behind.  Employees and their spouses also receive guidance on communicating with their children on all aspects of health during network training and at wellness days.

Financial Wellness

Increasingly within the SWHAP network, workplace HIV and wellness 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 which is an important aspect of wellness. Research shows that anxiety over finances can lead to long-term stress, impacting physical and mental health. This has an impact in the workplace resulting in absences, reduction in productivity and increased risk of accidents. Employers can help ease that stress through equipping employees with information and skills on how to manage their personal finances (shrm.org)

During the last three months, over 50 Peer Educators from the DRC, Mozambique and Zambia were equipped with skills to enhance their management of personal finances through interactive workshops. The workshops addressed issues such as budgeting, debt, goal setting and savings plans. The Peer Educators will share these skills with their peers at the workplaces.

In Zambia, Orica included its supply chain in the training. Pre and post workshop assessments showed significant improvements in knowledge on personal financial management

Training in the DRC also included refresher training on Ebola as there has been a new outbreak in recent weeks. The awareness sessions highlighted in particular, how the virus is spread, symptoms of the virus and precautions that can be taken to prevent infection. The awareness sessions are complementary to government initiatives to sensitise their populations on Ebola and to provide credible sources of information.

Training for Spouses

As part of efforts to ensure exposure to wellness information for all family members, spouses of employees from Zambia and Zimbabwe also took part in financial wellness training. In Zimbabwe, 30 Spouse Peer Educators (male and female) from Scanlink, Sandvik, Ericom Communications, Revco and their supply chain partners participated in a dialogue on financial wellness and its impact on psychosocial health. The emphasis of the dialogue, held on 30 April, was on building practical skills that address financial wellness. Participants discussed; budgeting and the different ways of managing family finances; the challenges and consequences of mismanagement; and the links between financial mismanagement and intimate partner violence. Some research has found that financial stressors are associated with the perpetration of intimate partner violence (Schwab-Reese 2016) and the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey 2015 notes that 35% of ever-married women reported having experienced physical or sexual violence from a spouse. 

Financial wellness training in Zimbabwe

Similar training was held for Spouse Peer Educators in Zambia on 9 June in Kitwe.

Community Campaigns

Botswana Road Safety and Health Campaign

Over the Africa Day holiday (25 May), steering committees from Epiroc, Scania, and Auto Sueco Botswana organised and held a joint road safety and health public awareness campaign under the theme “Fatigue Management and Road Safety 2018”.

The campaign targeted long-distance truck and bus drivers (including passengers), motorists and informal sector workers operating along the Palapye Highway. The objective of the campaign was two-fold; sensitising drivers on the dangers of driving while tired and creating demand for HIV counselling and testing (HCT) and wellness services for those involved in the transport sector.

Other stakeholders participating included the Department of Road Transport and Safety, the Botswana Police, the  Ministry of Health, Blood Transfusion Services, BOSSANET, Vivo Energy, the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund and Tepelopele Testing Services.

Botswana has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world with an estimated adult prevalence rate of 21.9% (UNAIDS). Transport workers, in particular, long-distance truck and bus drivers, are particularly vulnerable to infection due to social issues related to being away from home for long periods of time. This absence from families often leads to high-risk sexual behaviour, transactional sex and multiple sexual partners along major towns and stopover points – making it important to also offer HCT services to communities along major highways.

Additionally, drivers are faced with many other health issues including high cholesterol, blood pressure, stress, exhaustion, and communicable diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. A combination of long hours and mobility mean that many do not have the time or opportunity to access health services and when problems and symptoms arise they are often ignored. This increases the risk of accidents on the roads, due to ill health and fatigue while driving.

From left: Auto Sueco MD Pedro Ferreira Montero with Programme Coordinator Tshegofatso Raditlhokwa

Access to HIV and wellness screening was provided for members of the public from the surrounding community

Mr Letsapa Mojaphoko- Deputy Permanent Secretary – Ministry Of Transport & Communication

Kenya – Gold Grown Community Outreach

In Kenya, Gold Crown, a company under the Shreeji mentorship programme, held an outreach at a prison for women in Mombassa on 16 June. The objective of the outreach was to raise awareness on HIV transmission and prevention and to donate food and toiletries.

According to UNAIDS, “People who are already more likely to be exposed to HIV, including people who use drugs, sex workers, and gay men and other men who have sex with men, are overrepresented in prisons and other closed settings. Overcrowding increases vulnerability to infections such as HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis.” Moreover, the National AIDS Control Council of Kenya has identified prisoners (along with men who have sex with men,  sex workers and their clients, and drug users who use injections) as contributing to a third of all new infections in the country. This makes outreach programmes around this group key to efforts to reduce HIV infection within Kenya.

Gold Crown Team

Third Phase of Union/Employer Partnership Launched in Kenya

On 26 June, the third phase of the Union/Employer partnership was launched in Nairobi with sensitisation for managers from ten companies participating in the programme. The initiative will support the companies to set up HIV and AIDS programmes that address structural issues that make employees more vulnerable to HIV, STIs and other infections.

The Programme is a partnership with the Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers and Allied Workers Union (KLDTDAWU), the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), the Central Organization of Trade Unions Kenya (COTU-K), the International Labour Organization, the National AIDS Control Council and SWHAP. The participating companies are members of FKE and KLDTDAWU.

During the first two phases, 20 companies in the transport sector were assisted to set up workplace programmes. HIV and AIDS policies were also formulated by steering committees to protect the rights of workers. Another important aspect of the programme was advocacy for enrolment on to the National Hospital Insurance Fund during the awareness drives conducted by the Union.

Some outcomes of the mentorship programme were presented at the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa 2017 and at the 8th International Convention on Peer Education, Sexuality, HIV & AIDS in June this year. They include:

  • Training for 100 management representatives on the business benefits of workplace HIV and wellness programmes – helping to ensure buy-in and commitment to the mentorship process. This also built financial sustainability for programmes raising awareness on the need to set aside budgets for wellness activities.
  • Setting up of steering committees and training of 47 Peer Educators to provide peer counselling and create opportunities for discussions on health-related issues at workplaces and communities.
  • Workplace education sessions on HIV, STIs and non-communicable diseases that empowered employees to talk openly about HIV: 2 467 employees were sensitised and 1 450 participated in HIV testing and counselling. The Union also used these education platforms to begin discussions on the inclusion of wellness and health clauses in collective bargaining agreements.
  • 20 KABP surveys allowing for future monitoring and evaluation of, for example,  knowledge transfer and behaviour change.
  • Catalysation of networking and dialogues between the Employers’ Organisation and the Union in line with protection of employees’ rights. Additionally, dialogue paved the way for unionisation of workers at some workplaces.