SWHAP partners often use health observance dates to promote wellness, encourage exercise and provide HIV and wellness screening for employees. SWHAP supports and encourages programmes that address HIV and AIDS within a general wellness context. This approach helps in destigmatising HIV and increases testing uptake rates.
World Hypertension Day
World Hypertension Day is observed every year on 17 May, raising awareness and promoting hypertension prevention, detection and control. High blood pressure is the main risk factor to developing cardiovascular disease. The 2018 theme “Know your numbers” advocated the importance of knowing one’s blood pressure measurement. Globally it is estimated that 1 in 3 adults with hypertension do not know that they have it.
SWHAP partners in Tanzania and Zambia commemorated World Hypertension Day providing testing for employees and dependents. Commemorations at Sandvik Tanzania started with a 5-kilometre walk for employees in Nyakato Mwanza which raised awareness on the importance of exercise for general wellbeing and in particular for preventing hypertension. After the walk, medical doctors from Uhuru Hospital explained the importance of knowing one’s blood pressure, and how to prevent and control high blood pressure. This was followed by blood pressure screening.
Similarly, in Zambia, ZAMEFA (a company under the SWHAP and National Union of Building, Engineering and General Workers Union mentorship programme) provided screening for employees and dependents.
World Malaria Day
Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria making the disease a major health challenge. In 2016 there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria in 91 countries – an increase of 5 million cases over the previous year (who.org). Most malaria cases and deaths take place in sub- Saharan Africa which is also the region most hard hit by HIV. Malaria increases HIV viral load, while HIV increases the risk of malaria infection. In endemic countries, malaria is responsible for decreased productivity, employee absenteeism and increased health care costs.
On 25 April, SWHAP partners joined the global community in commemorating World Malaria Day through events to mobilise against malaria under the theme “Ready to Beat Malaria”. For example, ZAMEFA commemorated the day by providing access to testing and treatment for its employees and community – 265 people were tested on the day with 24 testing positive for malaria. The activity was done in partnership with the District Health Team. In the DRC, Orange provided sensitisation and testing services for over 150 employees and distributed treated bed nets during the launch of their Health and Safety Week at the end of April.
International Day for Safety and Health
Epiroc in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe and Orange DRC also held events to highlight the importance of health and safety at the workplace on International Day for Safety and Health reaching over 200 employees. On-site exercise sessions in Zambia, Zimbabwe and DRC promoted the importance of physical activity for the prevention of non-communicable diseases and general wellbeing.
International Children’s Day – Say no to Child Marriages
As part of their community outreach, Verde Azul in Mozambique shared age-appropriate information on HIV and sexual reproductive health and rights with young people on International Children’s Day celebrated on 1 June. The celebrations were held in Chizavane Community and at Costa do Sol Primary School under the theme “Say no to child marriages”. The objective was to raise awareness on HIV risk factors, the causes and implications of child marriages and advocacy for children’s rights. Knowledge transfer was achieved through interactive activities such as drama, poetry recital, games and quizzes with prizes for the correct answers.
The activities at Costa do Sol Primary School reached 500 pupils and 5 teachers. While the commemorations in the Chizavane Community (held in partnership with Viseco Association) were attended by community leaders, local village chiefs, the Chief of Chizavane Town and the Chief of the Administrative post of Chidenguele. Over 500 students and 200 adults were sensitised on the dangers of child marriages and parents were encouraged to defend the rights of children.
According to Girls Not Brides, nearly 1 in 2 girls in Mozambique are married before their 18th birthday and “married adolescent girls tend to have higher HIV infection rates than their unmarried, sexually active peers.”