More than 12,000 private sector workers “reached” by US-funded HIV/AIDS workplace programmes- GHARP,ILO/USDOL projects to be merged this yearFriday, April 20, 2007 – 8:33 am
Source: Stabroek News
More than 12,000 workers in the private sector have been sensitized to HIV/AIDS as a workplace issue through the United States-funded Guyana HIV/AIDS Reduction Project (GHARP) and the local private sector is to intensify its collaboration with the project this year to ensure that more private sector workplaces adopt policies and programmes aimed at heightening awareness of the dangers which the disease poses to skills retention in the productive sector.
GHARP is currently working with 22 local private sector entities including the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) Scotia Bank and Demerara Distillers Ltd, 13 of which have already adopted workplace policies while a further eighteen businesses are expected to sign Memoranda of Understanding with the Project shortly. The signing of the MOU commits agencies either to undertaking basic HIV/AIDS-related activities at the workplace including awareness training or becoming involved in a more comprehensive set of activities rhat include policy development and peer educator training. The collaborative activities between GHARP and the local private sector are based on guidelines set out by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and designed to support the overall national plan to respond to HIV/AIDS.
Since the launch of the project GHARP has engaged both business houses and local private sector bodies to encourage businesses to commit more time and resources to instituting programmes designed to protect workers against HIV/AIDS. A Private Sector Advisory Board on HIV/AIDS has been set up and that organization is currently working to emulate other countries by establishing a Guyana Business Coalition for HIV/AIDS.
Meanwhile, a mid-term internal assessment of another United States-funded project, the International Labour Organization/United States Department of Labour (ILO/USDOL) HIV/AIDS Project is to merge with GHARP this year in order to focus on an expanded effort to implement workplace policies and programmes in both the public and private sectors. The ILO/USDOL project was implemented through a 4-year grant from the United States Department of Labour to the International Labour Organization to implement a US$4.6m Global HIV/AIDS In the Workplace Programme As part of the programme the ILO began a 3-year $US396,000,00 HIV/AIDS Workplace programme in Guyana. Since then the project has secured further financial support from the US-funded PEPFAR programme.
The mid-term internal assessment of the ILO/USDOL programme also recommended that the project seek to lobby heads of private sector agencies, among others, “to pressure employers to provide better space and follow-up for peer educators and allow project activities to fully develop within the workplace.
The ULO/USDOL programme has already undertaken investigative studies in various sectors including the construction sector to assess the extent of workplace responses to HIV/AIDS and is undertaking further collaborative work with those sectors to put effective workplace programmes in place.