THE National Aids Council (NAC) has appealed to all organisations to introduce an employee wellness programme (EWP) at their workplaces as a way of helping manage HIV and Aids in Zimbabwe.
EWP is a programme that seeks to engage the industrial sector with management finding a means of addressing the physical, economic, social and nutritional well-being of employees so as to achieve zero new HIV infections, zero Aids-related deaths and zero HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
Speaking at a meeting organised by NAC, the provincial Aids co-ordinator for Bulawayo, Sinatra Nyathi, said it was important that companies embark on the programme.
“The private sector has to embark on the programme so as to recognise HIV as a critical workplace issue and mobilise greater support towards achieving national HIV commitment,” she said.
Nyathi said only a few companies had adopted the EWP although it was every organisation’s responsibility to initiate the programme.
She said NAC had targeted the workplace because statistics gathered in 2011 showed that HIV was prevalent among the employed at 17% compared to 13% among the unemployed.
She said the workplace programme was critical as it complemented national prevention programmes and policies.
“The workplace provides an ideal gateway to HIV and Aids prevention and care. The organisational culture is an equaliser offering a consistent platform from which a comprehensive HIV wellness programme can be implemented,” Nyathi said.
Statistics revealed that although the HIV and Aids prevalence rate was decreasing countrywide, the rate remained high in Matabeleland South, Bulawayo and Matabeleland North.
Zimbabwe had, however, managed to reduce the prevalence rate from a peak of 29% to the current rate of about 15%.