The past years have witnessed continued positive impact on the related morbidity and mortality. To date, a majority of the AIDS related indicators tracked and monitored (deaths, ill-health retirements and productive time lost to illness (sick leave days taken) continue to register downward trends and negative growth.
Our programme success is not without challenges. The following are some but a few of the immediate challenges we are facing
- The strides made in mitigating the HIV/AIDS risk may breed complacency and a false sense of security. Recreating the HIV/AIDS burning platform in this environment of ‘success’ becomes a serious challenge to contend with
- Balancing time for HIV/AIDS interventions in the workplace and production demands
- Sustaining prevention initiatives in the ART era and keeping HIV negative people negative
- High HIV/AIDS knowledge with minimal translation into visible behaviour change, de-stigmatization and normalization of HIV/AIDS
- Scaling up VCT/partner disclosure and registration on the ART programme
- Possible onset of long term complications of ART? ‘Pill’ fatigue? The fact that ART only prolongs life but does not cure AIDS?
- Late registration on the disease management programme for care and support
- Ensuring adherence to treatment
- Forging value –adding partnerships and collaborations with the community in prevention strategies/programmes without the sense of being paternalistic ‘fathering’
In line with the philosophy of extending productive lives of its employees, Debswana will continue to enhance its HIV/AIDS programme.
In the time that we have been involved in this fight, we have learned that
- HIV/AIDS is a business issue because it impacts on the performance of individual employees, which in turn impacts productivity of the Company.
- The impact of HIV/AIDS on the business can be minimised through structured workplace programmes.
- Collaboration is key - companies do not exist in isolation, they must join hands with others.
- It is not enough to monitor costs alone and it is equally important to identify critical posts in order to target them for specific risk reduction strategies.
- Engagement of the Unions must be on a joint problem solving approach.
- Confidentiality can be a disabling concept, which needs to be defined in context and managed consistently across the Company.
- For sustainability purposes, it is critical to put equal focus on prevention efforts.
- Change of behaviour requires more targeted and individualised communication.
It therefore requires:
- Active involvement and visible support from top management with real commitment not compliance.
- Managers who are AIDS competent. No serious organisation entrusts their finances to a financially incompetent management team.
- Adequate systems to measure and monitor AIDS impact on the business both before and after interventions.
- Adequate resources at appropriate levels to manage its impact and support those who are infected (budget and people)
- Continuing education for support staff and benchmarking opportunities.
Support structures and prevention programmes must address the various interest groups i.e. they must be age and gender sensitive (not neutral).
Read more about our HIV/AIDS Programme milestones reached in the past years