Peer Educators from Zambia and Zimbabwe were at agricultural shows held in August distributing condoms and discussing HIV transmission and prevention with show participants. Reports filed by Peer Educators from Zambia indicated high levels of stigma associated with condom use with many women refusing to accept the condoms on offer lest they be accused of infidelity. In many countries social norms mean that condom use is still synonymous with suspicion and mistrust – creating barriers to their use. Peer outreach is thus important for addressing factors that inhibit positive behaviour change.
Zambian Peer Educators with a dance troupe at the Zambia Agricultural Show
In Zimbabwe SWHAP shared a booth with the Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS), where Peer Educators discussed workplace programmes and how they benefit both employers and employees. They also talked to children, parents and guardians about Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights.
Robert Chibukwe a Peer Educator from Scanlink talking to school children about their rights during the Harare Agricultural Show
On 22 July 2015 Mozambique became the eleventh country within the SWHAP partnership. Significant progress has been made since the launch in Maputo. SWHAP is now working with Atlas Copco, Auto Sueco, Verde Azul Consultoria and Tecnel. The companies have trained HIV and wellness committees, drafted policies, and conducted awareness sessions reaching 73 employees. Reports from the training revealed that while most employees had good knowledge about HIV they were worried about getting tested. Workplace policies and participatory exercises explaining the benefits of knowing one’s status built confidence and as a result 42 employees from two companies were screened for HIV, blood pressure and blood sugar. Once HIV Counselling and Testing has been completed in all the companies 15 Peer Educators will be trained.
Participatory training exercises at Tecnel
A mapping study in Tanzania by consulting firm Deloitte revealed that only 29% of companies had social investments with a specific focus on HIV and AIDS. The perceived lack of visibility of HIV and AIDS investments and the rise of other emergent social challenges such as cancer, diabetes, youth empowerment and financial inclusion were identified as some of the key barriers as to why 71% of companies interviewed did not focus their social investments on HIV and AIDS.
This study was highlighted at a CEO and workers’ representative forum (jointly funded by SWHAP and the International Labour Organization) held in Tanzania towards the end of last year. The forum advocated for greater investment into workplace wellness programmes and brought together SWHAP partners and members of the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE).
To help bridge the gap, SWHAP has partnered with ATE and Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) in a workplace wellness programme advocacy campaign targeting ten companies. On 18 August management sensitisation for senior level representatives from eight companies was held in Dar es Salaam. The meeting gave an overview of the SWHAP model and explained health and HIV issues in the workplace. Employers were encouraged to think of workplace programmes as strategic investments to enhance job performance and productivity.
SWHAP encourages companies that have established sustainable workplace programmes to share their expertise and experiences with their supply chain or neighbouring organisations through mentorship programmes. In August and September Ericom Communications from Zimbabwe mentored Davies Granite through committee training and HIV and wellness policy review. Also in Zimbabwe Unifreight, a company under the Scanlink mentorship programme, held staff awareness sessions on HIV and wellness for 12 managers and 103 members of staff. By the end of the training the employees had a comprehensive understanding of; the main drivers of HIV and the prevention methods available, and how to assess their own risk for infection.
Employees from Unifreight after their policy drafting exercise
Similarly, in Kenya, Shreeji Chemicals started its own mentorship programme this year helping three manufacturing companies to address the causes and implications of HIV and ill health for more than 400 employees. On 17 August steering committees from the three organisations were equipped with leadership skills to steer their respective wellness programmes. Following the training knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and practices (KABP) surveys were conducted at the workplaces and over 90% of employees participated in HIV Counselling and Testing. The results of the surveys will allow the companies to establish accurate risk profiles and baselines for comparison at determined intervals.
Completing the KABP survey at Global Tea Ltd
Wellness days were held by companies in the DRC, Kenya and South Africa, with some targeting specific health concerns.
Babcock Ntuthuko Generation held a men’s health day in July looking at erectile dysfunction, prostate cancer, Medical Male Circumcision and testicular cancer. The topics, addressed through presentations and industrial theatre, were well attended. Also in July UD Trucks hosted a Tuberculosis (TB) day to raise awareness on the disease and provide onsite testing for employees. Those that tested positive were placed on treatment. South Africa is one of six countries in the world with the highest TB burden.
At Scania financial wellness workshops were conducted in the first half of August followed by steering committee training and wellness days at five sites.
TB Day at UD Trucks
During their wellness day Ericsson raised awareness and promoted the prevention of malaria. The company provided rapid malaria testing for employees and their families and gave out treated bed nets. Bed nets are cost effective prevention strategy against malaria and can reduce malaria cases by up to one third. Addressing malaria is also of concern for those that are HIV positive as malaria increases HIV viral load. Of the 66 people tested eight were positive for malaria and were referred to health centres for treatment.
On 1 September Atlas Copco held their wellness day where 65% of employees were tested for HIV, 69% for malaria and over 80% took part in various wellness tests.
Rapid malaria testing for employees and their families at the Ericsson DRC wellness day
During the last week of July Shreeji Chemicals organised a wellness week where Peer Educators did an amazing job mobilising 80% of their colleagues to get tested. Shreeji employees also donated 20 pints of blood to the national blood service.
Peer Educators within the SWHAP network receive regular training to keep them up to date with developments in health and HIV and AIDS. Such training is important for the sustainability of peer education programmes. During August and September 44 Peer Educators from South Africa, Botswana and the DRC updated their knowledge and skills.
Ten Peer Educators from SWHAP partners in South Africa joined 55 of their peers from; civil society organisations, sex worker groups, the private sector and the government for a training session on advocacy for social justice conducted by the University of South Africa (UNISA). The training unpacked diversity, gender, race and religion – empowering the participants on how to initiate dialogue and be advocates for social justice.
In August 14 Peer Educators from Quant, Hydroscand, Phillip Morris International and Alfa Laval South Africa participated in SETA accredited training.
Peer Educators from Botswana attended a session on gender transformative learning held in September. They also received books by Saidi Mdala a motivational writer and speaker from Botswana who encourages young people on abstinence, setting clear career paths and life goals, including safer sex.
In the DRC, Ten Peer Educators from Ericsson participated in a three-day Peer Education training which followed the national curriculum. The Peer Educators gained an understanding of the impact of HIV and non-communicable diseases on the workplace and acquired skills in communicating the benefits of programmes to their peers at the workplace.
SWHAP is collaborating with the National Union of Metal and Allied Industries in Zimbabwe (NUMAIZ) to sensitise the Union’s focal persons on HIV and AIDS. NUMAIZ, an affiliate of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), has around 9 000 members in five sectors.
Training for the union’s representatives was held in Harare on 14 and 15 September under the theme “Lighting the path towards healthy lifestyles amongst NUMAIZ workers”. Through discussions and group work, participants gained an understanding of; HIV and AIDS transmission, stigma and discrimination, sexuality, cancers of the reproductive system, and the importance of adherence to treatment. SWHAP shared its model for wellness that emphasises partnership between management and unions to address employee health for a healthy bottom line. The next steps in the programme will be a formal partnership for policy development, implementation and cascade through the union’s supply chain.
From left: Bonginkosi Mutongoza, Peer Educator, Willowvale Motor Industries; Henry Tarumbira, General Secretary NUMAIZ; and Stephen Dhliwayo, Deputy General Secretary, NUMAIZ discussing workplace policies
In related news from Zimbabwe, the National Engineering Workers Union, who launched their sector policy in June, have begun the dissemination exercise. Capacity building for 103 Peer Educators, human resource practitioners and workers’ committee representatives took place in August.
Surging youth populations in Africa make investments in health and education crucial if the continent is to achieve its potential for social and economic growth. According to the United Nations Population Fund “more than 2 million 10 to 19-year-olds are living with HIV” and about one in seven of all new HIV infections are occurring during adolescence (unfpa.org/swop-2014). UNAIDS estimates that 70% of boys and girls in sub-Saharan Africa do not have comprehensive HIV knowledge. This knowledge – also addressing rights and gender – would promote equitable relationships between boys and girls, reduce risky behaviour, delay sexual debut and result in fewer sexual partners.
During August and October various activities were held targeting the children of employees in the SWHAP network. The programmes, which attracted over 150 participants, shared age appropriate Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information and advocated for responsible sexual behaviour.
SWHAP in Kenya together with SKF, Assa Abloy, Ericsson and Tetra Pak held a joint SRHR awareness event for employees and their children. The objective of the training was to equip the children with life skills to enable them to make the right decisions regarding their health and to create awareness on the psychosocial challenges that they face. One session highlighted issues related to sexual abuse, training the participants on how to identify signs of abuse and where to get help.
A workshop in Zimbabwe addressed the basic facts of HIV, peer pressure, gender, sexuality, and drug and alcohol abuse. Teenagers discussed factors that facilitate HIV transmission and the available prevention methods – with abstinence being encouraged. By the end of the training participants could make a better assessment of their personal risk and were equipped with coping strategies for resisting negative peer pressure.
On 3 October Ericsson South Africa held a workshop for teenage girls addressing the reasons behind the increase in HIV among young people. Young women (15-24) are disproportionately affected by HIV. In South Africa almost 2 000 new HIV infections occur weekly amongst this group – a rate two and a half times that of males of the same age (unaids.org). Ericsson South Africa is mentoring young women giving them access to careers in information and communication technologies, part of the experience involves training on HIV and sexuality.
It is hoped that these programmes will help young people make a safe and healthy transition from adolescence into adulthood and contribute to a healthy labour force.
Training youth in Zimbabwe
Congratulations to the winners of the Scania Kenya Driver Competition, John Leonard Njoroge and Fredrick A. Amakusi who managed to beat over a thousand entrants in the first Scania Driver Competition to be held in Kenya. Along with promoting road safety, Scania also used the competition to raise awareness on health issues affecting drivers and communities along transport corridors. Since the first heats in May, 1642 people have been counselled and tested for HIV and more than 500 have participated in wellness tests.
Winners in the bus category. From left: Jonah Marende, John Leonard Njoroge and Mohammed Iqbal Rehimtula
Testing for contestants during the competition
Read more here: www.scania.com/group/en/kenya-scania-driver-competitions-highlights-road-safety/
Over the last five years the Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers’ Union has conducted awareness and testing for truck drivers along highways in Kenya; focusing on major stopover points and weigh bridges. Last year, with support from SWHAP and the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Union held a successful campaign where 6 345 people (including truck drivers, sex workers and employees in companies along the transport corridor) received education on HIV and AIDS and 5 065 learnt their HIV status.
Building on from this campaign, ten companies were identified to participate in a mentorship programme to set up comprehensive workplace HIV and wellness responses. Management sensitisation was held in July to encourage senior level support. By the end of the meeting managers committed to creating supportive environments for programmes to thrive. As a result of this commitment 16 steering committee members were selected and trained in August – building capacity on how to draft HIV and wellness policies and drive programmes. Additionally, the training reinforced the potential benefits of having a healthier workforce for instance; higher productivity, reduced health care costs, decreased absenteeism, lower work-related injuries, higher job satisfaction and performance.
This collaboration, also involving the Central Organization of Trade Unions Kenya (COTU-K) and the Federation of Kenya Employees (FKE), seeks to enhance testing uptake and access to services for long distance drivers by ensuring that the workplaces they come from have supportive policies and programmes in place.
Employee sensitisation at Lab Signs one of the companies under the mentorship programme