who_aids_logo.gifOrganisations in the private sector who are involved in championing the HIV and Aids cause have been implored to seek ways of deepening the public’s understanding of the disease to mitigate against the further spreading of the deadly virus.

 

 

The Southern African region has remained the epicentre of the HIV epidemic, and companies in the private sector are now coming up with various initiatives to assist their workforce in issues to do with HIV and Aids.

 

After realising that HIV and Aids was no longer a domestic issue but also a workplace issue, a local pharmaceutical company has adopted various strategies to assist its workforce, affected and infected by HIV and Aids.

 

Speaking on the sidelines of a World Aids Day commemoration, Mrs Ranganai Kandawasvika, who is coordinating the HIV and Aids activities at the company, said the organisation has extended its assistance to partners and children of its workers.     

 

“If you are married, the company also assists your partner and children. We have a health facility at the company and we offer free medication. We are encouraging our workforce to get tested and come out in the open so that they get help,” said Mrs Kandawasvika.

 

Like in many Southern African countries, the HIV epidemic in Zimbabwe has had a negative impact on the social, cultural and economic development of the country.

 

Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) HIV and Aids Programme Manager Mr Farayi Masunda said EMCOZ and other partners adopted the private sector strategy which introduced initiatives to respond to HIV and Aids and currently, EMCOZ is providing training to peer educators.

 

“The business sector has a crucial role to play in mitigating the impact of HIV and Aids. We have since realised that there is need to go into the community where the workforce comes from and start our advocacy from there. We are happy we received funding from the Global Fund and we hope to rope in more companies to adopt their workplace strategies,” said Mr Masunda.

 

EMCOZ and its partners got funding from the Global Fund Round 8 to implement the workplace HIV and Aids Response programme.

 

The consortium is targeting 250 companies in the next two years and has lined up activities that include advocacy, sensitisation of the workforce on HIV and Aids issues, training of peer educators, and HIV and Aids Policy development.

 

Africa has only 10% of the world’s population but is home to an estimated 75% of people infected with the HIV virus.