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.
To view a short film on SWHAP in South Africa, featuring Atlas Copco and Volvo please follow the link.
The International Labour Organisation’s campaign “Getting to Zero at Work” recognises the important role workplaces play in addressing the impact of HIV and AIDS. To download posters from SWHAP and its partners in support of this initiative please follow the links below.
Anders Ferbe, President, Industrial and Metal Workers’ Union of Sweden (IF Metall)
Annika Berglund, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, Atlas Copco
John Viner, Programme Manager, SWHAP
Alternatively, please visit the ILO Getting to Zero website
Over 3000 health checks for blood pressure, blood sugar, Malaria, Body Mass Index (BMI) and VCT (Voluntary Counselling and Testing) were conducted at the Sandvik Zambia Wellness Stand at this year’s Copperbelt Mining, Agriculture and Commercial Show in Kitwe. The show ran from the 29th of May to the 2nd of June and tests were offered free of charge to participants as part of Sandvik’s Corporate Social Responsibility and Wellness Programmes. Members of the public were appreciative of the information on offer at the stand as well as the opportunity to be tested, demonstrated by the overwhelming response. One woman tested positive for malaria as well as a higher than normal blood sugar reading and was immediately taken to a clinic for further treatment. A further 15 participants also tested positive for Malaria. Of the 422 participants who underwent VCT approximately 14% were found to be positive. They received additional counselling at the stand and were linked to referral services. This Sandvik initiative highlights the importance of providing opportunities for health screening as well as information so individuals can make informed decisions about their health.
- Blood Pressure 664 tested
- Blood Sugar 705 tested
- Malaria 703 tested
- VCT 422 tested
- BMI 694 assessed
Please click on the link for the latest newsletter June 2013 Newsletter