The international commemoration of World Aids this year, coincides with the 10th anniversary of Debswana’s concerted efforts against HIV and AIDS whose key focus was the provision of anti-retroviral therapy to employees and their spouses living with HIV and AIDS. This programme, the first of its kind in the whole world at its inception in 2001, has resulted in great progress with statistics demonstrating a noticeable improvement in several areas.
The Debswana HIV and AIDS strategy which includes a comprehensive programme, comprising both prevention initiatives as well as a disease management programme (DMP) where treatment of AIDS and related conditions is provided, has resulted in tremendous improvement in the lives of employees living with HIV and AIDS and their families. Availing anti-retroviral therapy was a strategic business decision and has benefited affected employees through availability of the therapy, counseling and other benefits of the programme and the company through increased productivity. Debswana also continues to assist Government in availing and increasing access to Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) to Batswana through its hospitals in Orapa and Jwaneng which dispense HAART to communities around its mines.
Commenting on the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day – Getting to Zero – Debswana Group Manager, HIV/AIDS Impact Management, Dr Onalethata Johnson, said “we had a very critical situation ten years ago with soaring absenteeism due to ill health. That situation has significantly reduced over time, indicating the programme’s positive impact on the health and well-being of Debswana workforce.” She further said the company also observed a downward trend in AIDS related deaths and AIDS related ill-health retirement since the programme started.
Dr Johnson continued to explain that in keeping with this year’s theme as well as the company’s value of ‘Show we Care’, the company is expanding the programme into a holistic initiative with a focus on prevention of other chronic diseases of lifestyle as well as care and support for those affected.
This programme, run under the tagline of My Health, My Wealth, is an integrated employee wellness programme, which endeavours to provide appropriate resources for empowering employees to improving their physical, social and psychological wellbeing and will be focusing not only on HIV & AIDS in the workplace, which clearly is still an issue of concern, but also on other health related matters that may have an impact on productivity at both individual and Company level.
Debswana commits to living the values of - Showing we care for each other and pulling together to shape the future towards a stigma free environment and a healthier workforce and community.