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Days before Jamaica joins the world in observing Safer Sex Week, the Ministry of Water and Housing has taken the implementation of the HIV/AIDS Workplace Programme to a new level by acquiring six condom-dispensing machines where were installed in the restrooms at the Ministry’s Dominica Drive offices in New Kingston on February 2 and 3.
The Ministry is the only other known Government entity to introduce the machines at the workplace following the pioneering efforts of the Ministry of Health.
The move is in keeping with the primary goals of the HIV/AIDS’ Workplace Programme which speak to risk reduction, non-stigmatization and non-discrimination through a sustained programme of sensitization. The work is guided by the HIV/AIDS’ Workplace Policy.
According to Consultant/Co-ordinator for the HIV/AIDS Workplace Programme in the Ministry of Water and Housing, Monica Dystant, the idea to introduce the machines was based on the demand/supply shown in the continued depletion of the stock of condoms in the Ministry’s Health Corner.
“I went in search of condom machines, discovered one at the Blue Cross of Jamaica (Sagicor), some months ago and decided to explore that idea.” Miss Dystant said.
The National HIV/AIDS’Programme in the Ministry of Health encourages the implementing bodies to find strategies that enable the programme to achieve its goals.
The impact of the Workplace Programme has been seen in the increased tendency of employees to obtain condoms. The Programme subsequently responded with an initiative to partner with Facey Commodity Ltd in providing the machines to dispense condoms at the Ministry.
The machines, each having a capacity of approximately 72-condoms, were installed in the male restrooms on five of the seven floors occupied by the Ministry at The Towers on Dominica Drive, as well as in the Health Corner located on the seventh floor.
The restrooms were the preferred location based on responses to a survey the Programme conducted this year. The choice is expected to increase accessibility for persons in the convenience of a restroom. Employees may also choose to access condoms at the commercial entities.
According to Miss Dystant, “We intend to continue to explore the possibility of acquiring additional machines which we will put in the female restrooms as time goes by”.
The HIV/AIDS Workplace Programme has made strides in sensitizing more than 50-percent of the employee population over the past two years, primarily through workshops.
“We anticipate an increase in the demand for condoms, especially around Safer Sex Week and other health and festive celebrations, particularly on public holidays. That is why the Programme strategically targeted this period as timely to install the condom machines. We anticipate that over the next couple of days, persons will familiarize themselves with the machines to the extent that they will become comfortable in accessing their condoms”, Miss Dysant added.
The Ministry of Water and Housing began implementing the Workplace Programme on HIV/AIDS in collaboration with the Ministry of Health in January 2007.
Safer Sex Week will be observed from February 8-16 under the theme -“Before you get it on, put it on!’