HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy Ready for Debate


The Government has been doing a lot of work to ensure the protection of the rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS, Minister of Health, Hon Rudyard Spencer, said in his World AIDS Day Message issued on Monday.
Mr. Spencer noted that the Cabinet approved the National HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy in 2008, with recommendations for changes.
“One major change, recommended by the Joint Select Committee of Parliament that considered the Green Paper, is that HIV and AIDS should be treated like any other chronic illness,” the Minister highlighted. The document was tabled in Parliament on November 11.
Mr. Spencer noted that the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in its Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS, and the World of Work, recommended that HIV/AIDS be recognised as a workplace issue.
“For this reason, the special Joint Parliamentary Committee recommended that the Ministry of Labour and Social Security promote its Policy on Life Threatening Illnesses, along with the National Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS,” he stated.
The Joint Select Committee of Parliament is also recommending support for all the strategies outlined in the national workplace policy, to support its objectives. These include the amendment of relevant legislation and enactment of new legislation.
Other recommendations include: sensitisation and dissemination of information about the policy; involvement of persons living with HIV in designing and implementing the workplace programme; (3)establishing an appropriate environment for provision of confidential pre and post test counselling, with access to referral for voluntary counselling and testing; (4) strengthening of social support schemes and benefits to include provision for HIV and AIDS; and (5), integrating HIV/AIDS issues of prevention, treatment, care and support into existing training and office-based staff development and other human resources development initiatives.
The Ministry is also moving towards an institutional approach to reducing the level of stigma and discrimination attached to the illness, Mr. Spencer said.
“This includes sensitising Primary and Secondary school students, through the Ministry of Education’s Health and Family Life Education curriculum, with support from the Global Fund. Currently, the Ministry of Education is in 60% of Primary & Secondary schools with the intention of rolling out this curriculum in 100% of schools by 2010,” Mr. Spencer pointed out.
World AIDS Day is being celebrated worldwide on Tuesday (December 1, 2009).

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