Working with Men and Boys

A recent report by UNAIDS highlighted the failure of HIV programmes to engage men. It noted a large gap in HIV status awareness with 59% of men compared to 72% of women testing and knowing their HIV results. Workplaces in sub-Saharan Africa (where the majority of the workforce in formal employment is male) have an easily accessible population of men and a captive audience to promote HIV testing and prevention programmes.

SWHAP is employing various strategies to bridge this gap in HIV status awareness including partnerships with various organisations such as the Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS) and Men Engage Zimbabwe to promote gender equality through working with men and boys to reduce HIV and gender based violence and promote uptake of HIV services by men.

At the end of July SWHAP participated in the SAfAIDS regional gender symposium learning new strategies for scaling up the involvement of men and boys in HIV and gender based violence prevention, care and treatment. The SWHAP Southern Africa Coordinator chaired a 3 -hour session on “Aligning Men and Boys’ Engagement with the SDGs”.

Wellness Days

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. During June and August wellness days were held at Scania in Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania and at Shreeji Chemicals and Tamarind Translations in Kenya.

At Scania Tanzania the health services offered at the wellness day comprised of; a general physical examination, weight and height measurement for body mass index estimation, blood pressure measurement for hypertension screening, random blood glucose measurements, and HIV testing and counselling. As a result of the wellness day, 56 employees got to know their HIV status.

Shreeji Chemicals in Mombasa partnered with NorthStar Alliance to provide health screening and HIV testing for its employees.

Employees from HemoCue at the Tamarind Translations Wellness Day

Tamarind Translations focused their wellness day on mental health, inviting a specialist to talk on the subject as well as work life balance, and the impact of stress and depression on the individual and the business. Tamarind invited SWHAP partners from Nairobi to the event. It was a good way for Tamarind to showcase implementation of internal wellness sessions and an opportunity for the other companies to assess the facilitator as a future resource for their own programmes.

Scania Namibia employees filling out health risk assessment forms. The company combined its wellness activities with a golf day for employees.

On 8 July Scania Botswana held a wellness day to encourage its employees and community to see fitness and health in a holistic manner. The company organised a 10-kilometre walk and mountain bike races ranging between 15 and 45 kilometres. The events where open to the public: over 30 cyclists and 25 runners registered for the races. Scania partnered with a fitness company who shared tips on how to work out and a mobile restaurant that shared nutrition advice. Other partners included the Cancer Association of Botswana who demonstrated how to conduct self-breast exams, Blood Transfusion Botswana who encouraged participants to donate blood, and an organisation that focused on mental wellbeing. The theme for the day was #Fit and Boujee signifying that health was the new wealth.



Reaching Motorcycle-Taxi Drivers in the DRC

The majority of the DRC’s socio-economic activities take place in the informal sector and an estimated “80% of the active population operates outside the labour market” ( Workers often operate under difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions with limited rights and inadequate access to health care information or services. Limited compliance for occupational health and safety standards also make it difficult to implement strategies on HIV and other non-communicable diseases within the sector.

The Confédération Syndicale du Congo (CSC) is working within the informal sector in the DRC to promote social protection and decent work. On 27 May, in partnership with the Association for the Development of Moto Taxi Drivers, the Union organised HIV testing and prevention education for motorcycle-taxi drivers in Katanga.

During the outreach, 43 members of the Association were sensitised on HIV prevention with 69% participating in testing. The awareness session also covered family planning and malaria prevention: malaria is endemic in the DRC.  Additionally, 2 236 condoms were distributed and all the drivers received HIV prevention stickers to put on their motorcycles.

CSC targeted this informal industry as it has grown rapidly in the last five years, fuelled by increases in urbanisation and the number of customers looking for cheap convenient transport. The sector is dominated by young men with little formal education and low information levels on HIV and other diseases. Alcohol and substance abuse are also common. Moreover, because they earn income daily, the drivers are an attractive target for sex workers and are thus considered at high risk for contracting HIV. 

CSC hope the initiative will help to protect the health of the drivers and that of their clients.

Community Outreach Initiatives Changing Lives


When Peer Educators from the SWHAP network in Kenya met Naomi Kimani, she had just been accepted into a college to study teacher education, but had no money to cater for the required fees

This was in 2013 on World AIDS Day. The Peer Educators were visiting the Kenya Network of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (KENWA) Children’s Home to make donations as part of their yearly commemoration activities. Something about the 18-year-old’s positivity and zest for life inspired them. They learnt that she had been living at the orphanage since her parents and two siblings had died of AIDS related illnesses. Her grandfather had briefly looked after her. But as he was struggling with poverty and old age he had no option except to place her in the children’s home.

Thus, began a mobilisation exercise where the Peer Educators pooled their resources to organise stationery and books, and for the first semester fees to be paid.  Naomi’s education was subsequently taken on by Atlas Copco Kenya, and on June 4 this year she graduated as a Teacher with a Diploma in Education.

Naomi explains what this intervention meant for her:

“I have been HIV positive since birth. My parents passed on when I was very young. When I learnt about my status, it was a bit disturbing but I later came to terms with it and decided that it would not be a limitation for me.

All through my life I have struggled to make my way up in the world despite my status. My relatives did not accept me because of my status. I became a child of the community. The community clothed me, fed me, gave me shelter and put me through school. And God was there to make sure that I never lacked anything.

Meeting the SWHAP Peer Educators was the best thing that happened to me, they came when I thought all hope was lost in attaining a career which I so passionately desired. They helped me continue with my studies and now I have graduated. I am now teaching mathematics, science and English at a school in Muranga County Kenya.


In 2016, Sandvik Zimbabwe worked with Musasa Women’s Shelter to raise workplace awareness on gender and sexual harassment at its headquarters in Harare. Musasa is an organisation that provides sexual reproductive health and rights training, and relief for survivors of gender based violence (GBV) through counselling services, basic legal advice and temporary shelter.

Through this contact, Sandvik became aware of the problems faced by the women at the Shelter – the majority of whom were survivors of GBV. Lack of income was limiting the women’s ability to support their families. Sandvik knew that it was important to create access to economic activities in order to build self-reliance and reduce the women’s vulnerability to contracting HIV. Economic dependency is often cited as a major reason why survivors of GBV are compelled to return to abusive relationships. Furthermore, women who face intimate partner violence are at a 50% increased risk of acquiring HIV (UNAIDS).

As part of their women economic empowerment drive and community outreach, Sandvik partnered with Musasa, donating 16 sewing machines and some money for other tools and material. This paved the way for the centre’s inhabitants to start a tailoring project.

Since November last year, the project has fulfilled orders for over 1 200 t-shirts, made 700 dignity bags for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and manufactured baby sets that are sold wholesale to other retailers.

The project is an example of how companies, through workplace HIV and wellness programmes, can engage in meaningful ways with their communities.

Atlas Copco Tanzania Commemorates World Malaria Day

Atlas Copco Tanzania distributed 150 treated bed nets to their employees and contractors. Through the company’s community outreach programme, Peer Educators in Mwanza facilitated malaria prevention education after which they handed out 250 bed nets to residents of six local villages. The outreach made a difference in the lives of over 420 people from that area.

In Kahama, Peer Educators and steering committee members visited and provided mosquito nets to orphans and vulnerable community members at Mvuma Centre.

Related article

World Malaria Day 2017

Social Dialogue

SWHAP Programme Manager, Alessandra Cornale and NIR CEO, Jonas Borglin shared the benefits of the SWHAP model during a SIDA brown bag lunch, and at the Sida Development Talks on ”Social dialogue – a tool for development?” in April and May respectively.

Social dialogue is defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) “to include all types of negotiation, consultation, or simply exchange of information between or among, representatives of governments, employers and workers on issues of common interest relating to economic and social policy.

Sweden has a long history and experience of working with social dialogue within the labour market resulting in benefits for both employers and employees. In Sweden’s development cooperation, social dialogue has increasingly become a natural part of interventions and closely linked to productive employment, decent work and sustainable economic and social development. Recently, in recognition of the benefit of social dialogue the Swedish government developed an initiative called Global Deal which aims to encourage governments, businesses, unions and other stakeholder to enhance social dialogue internationally. Global Deal was launched in partnership with the ILO and the the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and is well in line with the Sustainable Development Goal number 8.

For SWHAP social dialogue is used as a method of programme implementation. Management, employees and unions work together to design and implement HIV and wellness programmes. The partnerships created during this process foster, trust, communication and cooperation around not only health and wellness but other issues affecting the workplace. A win-win for all parties.

Follow the link below to read a Sida publication on social dialogue that features SWHAP.


OHS Data – World Day for Safety and Health at Work

This year’s theme for World Day for Safety and Health at Work: “Optimise the collection and use of OSH data – A contribution to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 8” recognises the impact accurate data can have in supporting workplace safety.

At company level, the collection of reliable occupational safety and health data is vital for detecting new hazards and developing preventative measures. At national level compiling this information helps countries to enhance systems for recording and fulfil commitments to implementing and reporting on some of the indicators in the Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, Goal 8 which promotes decent work and economic growth for all.

To commemorate this day SWHAP partners held various events. For example, Sandvik Zambia observed the day with an early morning two kilometre “health walk”, followed by a presentation by the  Safety, Health, Environment & Quality Manager on the protection of labour rights and the promotion of a safe, secure working environment for all employees.

Atlas Copco in Zimbabwe held two events for their employees at the Ngezi and Harare sites where the company’s annual health and safety statistics and key risk areas were discussed. Interactive presentations, including a quiz and a short drama organised by the employees, encouraged a proactive approach toward safety and health.

Employee enacted drama encouraging health and safety non-compliance reporting

Eltel Transmission Programme Update

Eltel Transmission partnered with SWHAP at the end of last year, conducting management and employee sensitisation for more than 350 employees and subcontractors spread out over several sites in Zambia’s northwest province. This year on 27 April, 25 members of staff underwent training equipping them to be HIV and wellness focal persons at their respective workplaces.

The company also provided screening for malaria, body mass index and blood pressure for 139 employees: 64% tested for HIV.  This was the first exposure to workplace based wellness testing for most of the participants, who expressed their appreciation of the  company’s investment into their health and well-being.

Promoting Physical Fitness at Atlas Copco

Physical fitness is taken very seriously at Atlas Copco Botswana. The wellness committee at the company encouraged 21 employees to participate in the Diacore Gaborone marathon held on 6 May. The entire team from Atlas Copco successfully completed their respective four and ten kilometre races.

The Diacore marathon is an annual race that attracts over 6 000 runners from Botswana and across Africa. Atlas Copco used the marathon to raise the profile of their workplace wellness programme and to promote physical activity amongst its workforce. Regular exercise is beneficial for health as it reduces cholesterol, the risks of high blood pressure, diabetes, some cancers and improves mental health and mood. Importantly for HIV positive individuals, exercise is good for the immune system.

Keeping Peer Educators abreast with developments in HIV and wellness

Peer Educators in the SWHAP network are excellent at sharing information and promoting behaviour change in their workplaces and communities. During April and May, SWHAP facilitated refresher training for 142 Peer Educators in Botswana, the DRC, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe to ensure that they were kept up-to-date on HIV, wellness and gender related information.

Peer Educators from Atlas Copco, Tigo and Sandvik in Tanzania enhanced their HIV and wellness knowledge during a refresher training course facilitated by the SWHAP East Africa Coordinator on 31 March. The theme of the training looked at emerging issues in workplace programmes and effective community outreach strategies.

At the end of April 38 Peer Educators from the SWHAP network in Zimbabwe (including supply chain companies) participated in an interactive one-and-a-half-day training workshop. The Peer Educators discussed gender equity, and learned about the results of the Zimbabwe Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA 2015-2016) and its implications for workplace programmes. They also had an opportunity to exchange notes on their workplace and community HIV and wellness initiatives.

Spouse Peer Educators in Zimbabwe from Ericom Communications, Freda Rebecca, Scania, Sandvik, Atlas Copco, SKF and Unifreight also had their skills in gender advocacy enhanced during training in Harare on 3 May. Spousal programmes are important for reinforcing awareness messages, changing attitudes and providing avenues for behaviour change within families and communities. As such they form an important part of workplace programmes and are included in the Peer Education training and network strategy.

In Botswana SWHAP partnered with the Botswana Business Coalition on AIDS to provide Intermediate Level 2 Health and Wellness training for 16 Peer Educators. The training was held over three days at the University of Botswana.

As part of mainstreaming gender within the workplaces, 19 Peer Educators took part in gender and diversity management advocacy training on 18 May in South Africa. In their company groups, the Peer Educators worked on the gender diversity iceberg exercise; helping to identify the underlying gender and diversity issues at their workplaces.

On 19 May, training in the DRC built the capacity of 26 Peer Educators in behaviour change communication, workplace programme advocacy and monitoring and evaluation of programme activities.

In other training news, on 26 April the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU) hosted a one-day awareness session on the basics of HIV for 14 shop stewards from different sectors including hospitality, retail and manufacturing. The training cleared misconceptions about the origins of HIV and clarified the role of medical male circumcision in HIV prevention.

SWHAP has worked with MANWU since 2013, complementing the Union’s efforts to build shop stewards‘ capacity in collective bargaining around HIV and wellness.

MANWU shop stewards

In Kenya, 63 steering committee members and Peer Educators from the SWHAP supply chain and mentorship network came together to share and exchange notes on the progress of their workplace programmes. The network training also addressed programme fatigue and encouraged activities that produce sustainable results.