GBCHA awards five for HIV/AIDS contributionMonday, June 2, 2008 – 12:04 pm
Source: Guyana Chronicle
THE Guyana Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GBCHA) has recognised five companies/organisations for their valuable contribution in response to HIV/AIDS, at an impressive ceremony dubbed 2008 Awards of Business Excellence on HIV/AIDS in the Workplace.
The event hosted Thursday evening was the second awards event to be staged by the GBCHA in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the venue, the Rupununi Room, Le Meridien, Pegasus, was appropriately decorated in the signature red and white synonymous with the HIV/AIDS fight .
The recipients, Scotia Bank adjudged the Workplace winner; Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) – Core Competency Award; Youth Challenge Guyana, the Community /Media Award; Merundoi Inc., the National Action Award; John Fernandes Limited, and the award for HIV Counselling and Testing, Care and Treatment, and Support for Employees Living with HIV/AIDS, were presented with individual plaques.
Receiving Honorary Mention Award for Advocacy and Individual Leadership and also receiving plaques were Mr. Jagnarine Singh and Ms. Patricia Issacs both of the GRDB.
Presenting the awards were Prime Minister Sam Hinds; Dr Frank Anthony, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport; Mr. Robert Corbin, Leader of the Opposition; Director PANCAP, Dr Carl Brown; Dr Reuben Del Prado, Head of UNAIDS, Guyana and Suriname; and Dr Shanti Singh, Director, National AIDS Programme Secretariat.
As part of the Thursday evening event, 10 companies signed a workplace policies agreement which makes them part of the USAID/GHARP’s Private Sector Partnership Programme, having committed to help protect employees in the workplace through training and other activities designed to prevent and reduce HIV/AIDS.
The companies were Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Kaieteur News, Neal and Massey (Guyana), Continental Group of Companies, CARICOM Rice Mills, Citizens Bank, City Council, Grace Kennedy Remittances(Guyana), John Fernandes Limited and Habitat for Humanity.
Among others present were Sir George Alleyne, United Nations Secretary General Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean who delivered the keynote address; Dr Leslie Ramsammy, Minister of Health; Mr. Terrence Holder, Vice Chairman and Head of the Awards Subcommittee; Mr. Kwame Asiedu, Chief of Party and Ms Sylvia Delafield, Private Sector Adviser, United States Agency for International Development /Guyana HIV/AIDS Prevention and Reduction Project (USAID/GHARP); Ms. Gwen King, Workplace Programme Officer, USAID/GHARP and Ms Carol Ayoung, Chairperson, Pan Caribbean Business Coalition against HIV/AIDS and Chief Executive Officer, CAIC and members of the diplomatic corps.
Sir George, in his address, reminded the gathering of the ever present danger which HIV/AIDS poses to all of us.
According to him, “HIV/AIDS is ever-present to all of us. Everyone of us is at risk, no one is really safe from the virus,” which has claimed the lives of 1600 Guyanese between 2002 and 2005. He added that up until 2005, more than 30, 000 cases of AIDS had been reported to CAREC, while noting the disease is still the commonest cause of death in persons between the ages of 25 and 44.
The emergence of Business Coalitions in the tackling of AIDS is seen an effective platform for the private sector response to the epidemic, Sir George added.
Earlier, he had applauded the private sector companies that have made a public commitment to preventing and controlling HIV/AIDS by establishing new workplace policies that will help to reduce stigma and discrimination and help protect the rights of workers.
Noting the tremendous amount of work put in previously, Sir George recalled that during the past three years, USAID/GHARP, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), has helped to engage 43 private sector partners in workplace programmes and activities, reaching an estimated 66,000 workers and their families in the country.
This, Sir George remarked, is no mean feat, and he noted the response by the private sector organisations in providing support to the tune of some $US206, 000 in financial and in-kind resources.
Ms Ayoung, who introduced Sir George, referred to the activities of Pan Caribbean Business Coalition and added that it has been successful in keeping HIV/AIDS high on the agenda of policy and decision makers, and had too, coordinated and strengthened the regional response through joint action.
Earlier, Minister of Heath Dr Ramsammy also joined in congratulating the coalition, and expressed optimism that they will give leadership to the Caribbean coalition and will be a vital part in the global business initiative in the fight against the dreaded disease.
The evening, he said, was one to celebrate the entry of more private sector brothers and sisters into the fight and he called on those involved to reaffirm and commit themselves to the fight, while urging that they be bold and see only victory.
In a joint presentation, Mr. Asiedu and Ms Delafield recalled that two and a half years ago, at the same venue, there was celebration for the first set of 11 private sector agencies, while now the figure stands at 43. They expressed gratitude to USAID and the Ministry of Health for their support and guidance.
In a brief history about the GBC alliance, Mr. Holder said it was established on December 18, 2005, in the same Savannah Suite, when 22 private sector companies signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) with USAID/GHRAP to support, encourage and enhance Guyana’s response.
Each company which signed the MOC with then US Ambassador Roland Bullen, had as a partner committed to help protect employees in the workplace through a variety of education and training initiatives, designed to prevent and reduce HIV/AIDS, as well as to several initiatives intended to meet employee and community needs.
Lending some flair to the occasion, which also featured a sumptuous dinner, were two excellent renditions in song by Edward Neblett and Jessica Xavier respectively, a dance by a representative group from the CARIFESTA X Secretariat and the drawing of five door prizes.
The prizes were a dinner for two, compliments of Cara lodge, a MP3 player by Scotia Bank, a Stihl Bag and a mini First Aid kit donated by Farfan and Mendes; a large hamper from the Beharry Group of Companies and a crystal set from Citizens Bank Guyana Inc.