Companies that have received SWHAP support to set up HIV and wellness programmes often go on to share their experiences with other workplaces usually through the SWHAP supply chain or mentorship models. SWHAP also works with unions and employers’ organisations to assist their members to set up HIV and wellness structures. In 2017, such programmes helped SWHAP to reach an additional 82 workplaces with access to testing services and information on HIV for employees.
Below are some updates from supply chain and mentorship programmes from South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Kenya.
On 16 February, Sandvik South Africa held a feedback meeting on their recently completed supply chain programme. Through the programme, seven companies completed management sensitisation, steering committee training, policy development, baseline knowledge, attitudes and practices surveys and wellness days. In all, 244 employees conducted health risk assessments and 212 participated in HIV counselling and testing. Companies were informed of their risk burden and employees in need received telephonic support from the service provider.
Reports from the feedback session suggested that future programmes should be tailored to suit the needs and dynamics of smaller companies. Suggestions made included breaking down training sessions into smaller chunks so as to lessen time away from work, and enhancement of management sensitisation in order for managers to be more fully aware of the business case for programmes and to thus drive participation.
The Orica mentorship programme reached the midway point with steering committee training conducted on 5 and 6 February. The training equipped participants with information on wellness programmes and built capacity on initiation, planning, implementation and evaluation of workplace programmes. This was achieved through practical case studies, interactive presentations and group discussions that, for example, helped participants create appropriate benchmarks towards the evaluation of programmes.
As the way forward the trained steering committee members committed to conducting awareness sessions at their respective workplaces to sensitise their colleagues on the importance of workplace health, and to carry out needs assessments that will enable them to tailor appropriate programmes. These assessments will involve; environmental inspections; review of absenteeism rates and current health care costs; review of current programmes; and identification of common health conditions faced by employees.
Participants were awarded certificates on completion of training. The next stage in the mentorship process will be the development of HIV and wellness workplace policies.
Employee sensitisation for the Revco mentorship programme was held on 13 December for 44 employees from Professional Security. Information was shared on the key drivers of HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and correct condom use demonstrated. The awareness session highlighted the importance of condoms as a prevention method within workplace HIV programmes. In total 1 800 condoms were distributed and employees expressed appreciation of the condom demonstration with one employee saying, “all along I did not know how to put on a condom properly. I would like to thank [you] for coming to save my life maybe one day I was going to contract HIV through incorrect condom use.”
Condoms are a cost-effective tool for preventing HIV and other STIs. Globally since 1990, an estimated 45 million HIV infections have been averted through condoms. Currently, there is an annual gap of more than 3 billion male condoms in sub-Saharan Africa (UNAIDS).
The Raffia Bags mentorship programme that was launched in October last year culminated in testing for the two participating companies in December. Over 500 employees updated their health risk profiles. Appropriate referrals were made for cases that fell outside the normal range for blood pressure and blood sugar, or tested positive for HIV. Additionally, employees were empowered with information on how to identify hazards and risky behaviours in the workplace, and on how to take steps to prevent ill health or harm to themselves and others.
The successful implementation of the programme was driven by the management and wellness champions at Atta and Krystalline Salt Kenya who recognised the correlation between a healthy workforce and productivity. They created a conducive environment for employees to get information and help regarding their health.
On 22 November last year, management sensitisation was held for ten companies participating in the second mentorship programme involving the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) and the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA). As a result of the sensitisation process, all ten companies established steering committees. Training for 15 steering committee members was conducted on 23 January building understanding on the impact of HIV and health-related issues at workplace level and on how to develop strategies for policies and programmes. The training session was opened by a representative of the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) who recognised the efforts to prioritise HIV and AIDS responses amongst the private sector.