Please click on the link for the latest newsletter August 2014 Newsletter
Over 80% of cardiovascular deaths take place in low to middle income countries. Due to the enormous economic and social cost of managing cardiovascular diseases, prevention remains the cornerstone of their control. Most cardiovascular disease can be prevented by addressing risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
This is a strategy that is starting to pay off for Tetra Pak in Kenya, where employees are becoming more aware of the importance of preventative health. At a wellness day held in May, Tetra Pak reported a decrease of 12% in the number of obese employees and a 13% drop in patients with borderline and high blood pressure compared to last year. These changes are being credited to the workplace wellness programme that is raising awareness on the importance and benefits of regular exercise and good nutrition. Many employees have enrolled on the onsite company gym and are exercising on average three times a week.
The move to integrate wellness into the HIV and AIDS programme at Tetra Pak was motivated by the death of three employees a couple of years ago due to cardiovascular disease and Kaposi’s sarcoma. The employees had positively responded to antiretroviral therapy before they succumbed to these complications. The HIV and AIDS committee wanted to act to protect all employees from lifestyle diseases and cancers associated with HIV regardless of sero-status.
SWHAP in partnership with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), SAfAIDS, and Zimbabwe Business Council on AIDS (ZBCA) held a breakfast meeting in Harare to sensitise stakeholders from the private and public sector on the HIV and Wellness Management Standard. The objective of the meeting was to garner support for the standard which is currently under development and to enhance ownership and commitment. Guest of honour Dr Magure, Head of the National AIDS Council, acknowledged human capital as the most important asset in the workplace and thanked those present for prioritising HIV issues in the workplace.
The Standard once developed should position HIV and wellness management as an asset management response, providing a platform for structured action and a code of good practice for management. This should improve access to services for employees and their families.
Atlas Copco Zambia officially closed off its supply chain programme with a meeting attended by the five mentee companies that successfully completed the mentorship process. During the meeting companies were graduated off the programme and awarded certificates of completion. The mentee companies have developed structured programmes and enhanced capacity in addressing HIV and AIDS in their workplaces, contributing to the multi-sectoral response within Zambia. The formation of representative coordinating committees in mentee companies has been key in spearheading the establishment of union representation in companies that previously had no coordinated employee representation. The programme has also been of benefit to Atlas Copco as the company has gained experience in the implementation of the supply chain model and sharing of experiences.
As ongoing support is important for long term sustainability, Atlas Copco mentorship coaches will continue to be on hand to offer support to the mentee companies as and when needed and mentee companies will also be included in the SWHAP network meetings.
Congratulations to Sandvik Zambia who were awarded the second place prize in the Sustainable Business category at the Copperbelt Mining, Agriculture and Commercial Show in Kitwe. This was due in part to their HIV and Wellness Programme. As with last year Sandvik offered VCT and health screening for blood pressure, malaria and blood sugar at their exhibition stand. More than 1800 tests were conducted over the five days. 12 people tested positive for malaria whilst 26.9% of people who participated in VCT tested positive. All those needing treatment were referred to healthcare centres.
Viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by one of the five hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D and E. All the viruses can cause short term or acute infection with B, C, and D viruses potentially causing long-term infection (chronic hepatitis) which can lead to life-threatening complications such as cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water while Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of contact with infected body fluids.
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. Moreover HIV positive individuals who become infected with the Hepatitis B virus are at increased risk for developing chronic hepatitis, complicating treatment. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that as many as 4-5 million people may be infected with both HIV and Hepatitis B. The figures are also similar for Hepatitis C. Additionally many people are unaware that they are infected as symptoms may only appear much later after serious damage to the liver has already occurred.
Symptoms of hepatitis include fatigue, loss of appetite, fever and jaundice. Hepatitis infection can be prevented by providing safe food and water, vaccination, screening of blood donations, provision of sterile injecting equipment (WHO) and the use of condoms preventing transmission of sexually transmitted diseases including hepatitis and HIV.
This World Hepatitis Day, the World Health Organisation is highlighting the need to invest in appropriate prevention strategies, testing and accessible treatment particularly in low to middle income countries. SWHAP joins the world in commemorating World Hepatitis Day, raising awareness on the virus that kills 1.5 million people a year, encouraging people to “Think Again” about hepatitis.
To read more on hepatitis please follow the link
Please click on the link for the latest East Africa Regional newsletter June 2014 Newsletter
Please click on the link for the latest newsletter May 2014 Newsletter