Diplomatic and investment partners discuss HIV and AIDS policies for the workplace
Maputo, May 2009 – Development partners, representatives of the diplomatic corps and of the private sector attended a business leaders breakfast on May 15th in Maputo, to discuss social responsibility initiatives in the sector of health, education and child protection. The main theme of the session was the role of the private sector in the response to HIV and AIDS.
UNICEF, UNAIDS, EcoSIDA and CNCS co-hosted the event – which dealt with strategic options available to implement HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment policies in the workplace, benefitting both workers, their families and the local community.
“Working alone and in isolation, none of us has the capacity to fight this disease which is devastating the country. But together we have the possibility of halting its spread and reversing the destruction which is happening in the labour sector, among friends and relatives and, also the national economy”, said Leila Pakkala, UNICEF Representative in Mozambique.
The devastating impact of AIDS is affecting an increasing number of adults and children in the country, which demands a joint response involving all stakeholders. The latest data indicate on HIV prevalence of 16 per cent among people aged between 15 and 49. It is estimated that 1.6 million people are living with the disease in Mozambique.
However the impact of HIV and AIDS is still more devastating among women and children. About 420,000 children in Mozambique have lost their father, mother or both due to AIDS, and this number is expected to reach 500,000 by 2010. An increasing proportion of child deaths results from diseases associated with HIV. In 2008, over 22,000 children under the age of 15 died as a result of the disease.
UNICEF and its partners recognise the positive influence that business has in the development of the country and in the response to the pandemic. An increasing number of companies are implementing policies in response to HIV and AIDS at their workplaces.
At this event several specialists showed how HIV and AIDS programmes in the workplace – at low cost and high impact – can make a great difference in productivity and in the life of the workers, their families and their communities. It was also shown how companies can avoid the negative impact lost productivity, and benefit from savings resulting from reduced health care costs and reduced losses of experienced staff.
These meetings, which began last year in Maputo, Beira and Nampula, provide an opportunity for an exchange of experience between partners, and have led to the establishment of new and innovative partnerships for social responsibility programmes that benefit communities, particularly women and children.
During the meeting, the participants also had the opportunity to watch and take part in an interactive theatre performance by the Theatre of the Oppressed Group (GTO). The Group showed how theatre can be used as a powerful instrument to spread important messages such as health, education and protection of children and child rights.
The Partnership Menu developed by UNICEF, and made available to the participants, provides concrete suggestions of how the private sector can support initiatives in the community as part of social responsibility programmes.
To access the Partnership Menu, click on the link in the blue box to the right.