SWHAP partner EcoEnergy is in the process of developing a modern sugar estate on an abandoned cattle ranch in Bagamoyo District, Tanzania, working in partnership with the Government of Tanzania and the local community. While the project is expected to become a role model for sustainable environmental and social development creating jobs and offering other wealth creation opportunities, there are social risks that need to be managed. Early into the project EcoEnergy identified that a potential impact of the project would be increased risk of communicable diseases including HIV and TB due to a rise in the population of workers and an influx of opportunity seekers resulting in increased social interaction in the community. EcoEnergy has chosen a collaborative approach, seeking partners within the community to address the potential risk. In May, as part of the project preparation, a meeting was organised targeting Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) active in Bagamoyo, to share information and ideas on how this risk can be managed. The meeting was a great success with around 40 NGOs participating.
Sharing information with, and involving communities in, the decision making process increases the probabilities of project acceptance and success. To read more on how EcoEnergy is partnering with the local community to address HIV and AIDS please follow the link: EcoEnergy Case Study.
Four members of staff from Scania Botswana participated in the grueling 185 kilometre Kalahari Mountain Bike Challenge held on the 20th and 21st of July, to raise the visibility of their workplace Wellness and HIV & AIDS Programme. Scania provided financial support for the race participants as part of its efforts to encourage healthy lifestyles amongst its workforce. Regular moderate exercise is beneficial for health as it reduces cholesterol, the risks of high blood pressure, diabetes and some kinds of cancers as well as improving mental health and mood. Importantly for HIV positive individuals, exercise is good for the immune system and has also been found to reduce total body and trunk fat among men with lipodystrophy, a condition causing the redistribution of body fat.
During the last week of June Scania Botswana trained six drivers from its supply chain. As part of the driver training programme the trainees from Petro Logistics and Choppies also received education on wellness and HIV & AIDS. At the end of the training Scania Driver Trainer, Otto Bojang, distributed Driver Buddy Packs to the participants. The Driver Buddy Pack provide practical information on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), HIV prevention, a treatment “Road Map” booklet containing addresses of healthcare centres where drivers can access HIV prevention services, a CD with music relating to HIV prevention as well as male and female condoms. Drivers are considered a high risk group as the nature of their jobs means a lot of time is spent away from partners and families, making them prone to engaging in multiple concurrent partnerships and risky sexual behaviour.
Congratulations to Atlas Copco Botswana who held wellness days across three sites in June and July. Employees in Gaborone, Francis Town and Selebi Phikwe had the opportunity to participate in Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT), as well as screening for diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure and body mass index (BMI). As the majority of employees work in the mines they also had their eyes and ears checked. The main aim of the wellness days was to encourage health seeking behaviours amongst the employees and to raise awareness of health related conditions that may potentially develop into chronic ailments if left unaddressed. As a result of the tests conducted, Atlas Copco now has an accurate health risk profile and can begin to implement the appropriate interventions for its workforce. Well-designed wellness programmes can keep healthy employees healthy, support employees with health risks to improve their health behaviours and facilitate organisational efforts to achieve work performance goals.
On the 12th July seven SWHAP partners, Hemocue, Tamarind Translations, Tetra Pak, Assa Abloy, Scania Grange, SKF and Volvo Auto Sueco came together in Nairobi for the Peer Educators Network and Wellness Workshop. Topics covered during the meeting included HIV and AIDS as well as non-communicable diseases and wellness. Sessions were conducted in a fun and interactive manner with team building exercises encouraging peer educators to come up with creative out-of-the-box solutions for their workplace programmes.
Please click on the link for the latest newsletter August 2013 Newsletter
Occupational Health Practitioners (OHPs) from the South African SWHAP network attended the 6th SA AIDS Conference held from the 18th to the 21st of June in Durban. The theme of the conference “Building on Successes: Integrating Systems” was an opportunity for reflection on South Africa’s journey in addressing HIV and AIDS and a celebration of gains made thus far. OHPs learnt the latest developments in HIV and AIDS as well as new ideas on the incorporation of HIV and AIDS management in the workplace. OHPs are an integral link in workplace HIV & AIDS and Wellness Programmes, with their clinical knowledge and skills being important in the diagnosis, treatment and care of HIV infected employees and their families. SWHAP in South Africa works with 17 companies employing approximately 11 000 people. Around 87% of these employees know their status and nearly 80% of positive employees are registered on employee support programmes.
OHPs at The Wall of Remembrance
Today the Swedish Workplace HIV and AIDS Programme, (SWHAP) joins Sweden in celebrating Stockholm Pride, the largest pride event in Scandinavia. The event highlights Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersexed (LGBTI) culture and is a reminder against stigma and discrimination and promotion for tolerance for all.
Workplaces can be an important entry point for raising awareness on the sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) of vulnerable and most-at-risk populations. Through network meetings for Peer Educators SWHAP has created platforms for increased awareness and access to information about HIV and sexual and reproductive health rights for LGBTI persons. In these meetings awareness of the discrimination, stigmatisation, abuse and obstacles preventing LGBTI persons from access to sexual and reproductive health services is discussed and then shared in the workplace.
Traditionally stigmatised groups such as MSM (men who have sex with men) are at a higher risk of contracting HIV. A 2009 Lancet study found that the overall HIV rate among MSM in Sub Saharan Africa was 10 times higher than within the male population in general with the main reason for the disparity being attributed to stigma and discrimination. Laws and social customs contribute to the discrimination against vulnerable populations often driving them underground, complicating the delivery of health services.
Reducing the social exclusion of LGBTI communities through the promotion and protection of their human rights (including sexual rights and the right to health) is not only consistent with, but a prerequisite to, good public health. (SAfAIDS) Such programmes can also be beneficial to the wider population as many MSM in Africa are also married and high risk sexual practices can put their wives at risk of infection.
The Maputo Plan of Action adopted by the African Union in 2006, calls on African countries to strengthen their commitment to achieving universal access to Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services. It recognises the importance of concerted efforts on the part of governments, civil society, development agencies and the private sector for the effective implementation of this continental policy. Universal access to SRH services integrated with HIV services is key in achieving targets to reduce new HIV infection by 2015 and is also necessary for African economic and social development.
Ericsson Kenya is mentoring 20 young women, encouraging them to enter the male dominated Information Communication and Technology sector. As part of the programme the young women will receive training on sexual and reproductive health and wellness. Providing adolescents with comprehensive age appropriate information on sexual and reproductive health has been shown to delay sexual debut as well as promote responsible sexual behaviour. It is hoped the programme will encourage the young women to stay in school longer, increasing their chances of earning higher wages. Educating girls has been identified as one of the best solutions to reversing the trend of poverty in Africa, benefits comprise increased family incomes, later marriages, better opportunities and life choices, including improved chances of protecting themselves against HIV and AIDS. (www.unesco.org)
Ericsson Management (seated) with the young mentees
Atlas Copco DRC has become the latest addition to the SWHAP network. Steering Committee training was conducted in the first week of June. The training demonstrated the impact of HIV and non-communicable diseases on productivity and why the workplace is an ideal arena to address these health concerns. Participants were guided in identifying risk factors in their areas of operation as well as in formulating their HIV& AIDS and Wellness Policy and action plan.
Atlas Copco Steering Committee group work
Atlas Copco operates in Kolwezi a district of Katanga which has a population of around six million and an HIV prevalence rate of between 4-6%. Katanga has become the second most important province of the DRC as a result of its mineral wealth, with the boom in the mining sector attracting many new investors to the area. This coupled with movements between shared boarders with Tanzania, Angola and Zambia creates a platform for increased risk of HIV prevalence. In setting up its workplace programme Atlas Copco has joined other actors in the DRC working together towards an HIV free generation.