Regional Programme on HIV and Health
The East African Business Council has since May 2009 set up a program on HIV and Health whose objective is to reach out to the Business Community in the region on workplace health initiatives and provide a platform for experience sharing among business leaders in the region. This is in collaboration with GTZ –SPAA (Support to the Private Sector to fight AIDS in Africa).
This collaboration is aimed at coordinating the private sector’s response to HIV/AIDS in the East African Community partner states. GTZ/SPAA works from a regional perspective, while ensuring that the intended beneficiaries of the programme are reached.
The HIV/AIDS programme focuses on supporting and enhancing private sector capacity to respond to and mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS on business productivity as well as other health challenges at the workplace within the region,It is also aimed at enhancing coordinated reporting and monitoring and evaluation systems.
EABC plays provides the the regional private sector with :
1. A platform for experience sharing and learning from each other.
2. A coordinating role for activities at the regional level.
3. A forum for harmonization of practices approaches, regulations and policies related to HIV and other health challenges vis a vis business.
4. Adopts recommendations from the private sector forum for further advocacy and lobbying with the 5 governments at East african community level.
5. Provides a forum for networking between businesses, service providers, development partners and governments.
6. Through Public Private Dialogues – offers an opportunity for negotiations and discussions on issues of interest to both groups to ensure all inclusive decision making process on matters that affect businesses.
EABC MEMBERS ACTION IN HIV & AIDS
EABC carried out a survey of workplaces within its membership in 2007 which revealed that :
1. There’s an increased perception of the risk of HIV/AIDS,
2. Companies are establishing workplace responses and
3. There’s allocation of budget to address HIV/AIDS in the workplace.
Supporting members and non members to set up health programs and manage the impact of HIV and other health challenges to business:
EABC has a network of focal point organizations in Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, , and Kenya The aim of this network is to ease communications with EABC National chapters and ensure a coordinated approach to management of HIV and health challenges in business The Focal Points and Alternate Focalo Point Organizations form the EABC Regional Working group on HIV and health in in East Africa, the roles of which will include:
• Participating in EABC regional Meetings and informing their members of the outcomes
• Together at the Regional working group meetings, address the challenges of mitigating the impact of HIV and Health within the workplace and addressing other health challenges.
• Organizing meetings with national private sector to inform them of the regional initiatives and current agenda
• Reporting to the regional meetings of recommendations for advocacy and lobbying and concerns of their national chapters that need to be addressed at regional level
• Lobbying for national private sector interests in the region for a
• Representing the Regional working group meeting in EABC meetings on HIV and health that are held at National level.
• Informing the EABC secretariat of developments at national level that are relevant to the regional programme.
AREAS OF FOCUS
This joint effort focuses on helping the private sector mitigate the impact of HIV on business and manage other health challenges within the work environment which impact negatively on sustained profitability and economic growth and, more specifically to:
1. Provide timely and accurate information and educational materials to all businesses within the region e.g. through the national Business Coalitions;
2. Establish a regional database of all businesses and their specific responses to HIV and AIDS in the workplace;
3. Document and share best practices within the region and facilitate experience sharing in the business community;
4. Provide Policy guidance and ensure Public-Private dialogue on policy issues;
5. Advocate for harmonization of regulations, strategies and policies in the field of Business and HIV/AIDS;
6. Develop sector specific approaches;
7. Work within the framework of the EAC Secretariat’s strategic plan on HIV and AIDS and Private sector development strategy.
The East African Business council through its regional membership network of over 130 business associations, coalitions and corporate organizations coordinated a business- led selection of focal points for each of the 5 East African Community partner states whol then formed the EABC regional working group on HIV and health.
The regional working group is chaired by Engineer Patrick Obath from Kenya. Its role being to pursue the agreed upon recommendations for advocacy and lobbying agenda at the regional level with the governments of the five EAC Partner States.
Focal point Organizations selected in the months of June to October 2009, constitute business associations and coalitions with a track record of leadership in the fight against HIV and other health challenges, having been providing this service to businesses already. Their selection was done democratically by bringing together EABC member associations and coalitions, ministries of labour and social development, workers representatives, development partners, and other relevant groups in each country. Each aspiring Focal point or alternate organization made a presentation to the group for consideration. Finally there were proposals on the the Focal Point organization and alternate.
Selected Focal Point organizations and Alternate Focal Point Organizations per country
• Association des Employeurs du Burundi -Association of Burundi Employers (AEB) (Focal Point Organization)
• Association des Femmes Entrepreneurs du Burundi Association of Burundi Women Entrepreneurs – (AFAB) (Alternate Focal Point Organization)
The focal point organizations and alternate focal point organizations selected by their own country have a Focal person who then acts as a link between the country and the regional programme. All questions about the country are directed to the focal person who should in term consult with his/ her country committee to provide information that is agreed upon as a country position.
This Focal Person also plays the coordination role in terms of reporting, identification of challenges, successes, best practices and policy issues that need to be addressed at the regional level. The focal point (organizations) represents or speaks on behalf of the country chapters at all regional fora.
This then informs the regional initiative and serves to avoid duplication of effort and establishment of coordinated reporting that will eventually lead to documentation of all initiatives and identification of best practices in the region for a more competitive and prosperous region.
2010 & BEYOND
The focus of the program is enhancing leadership commitment and support to HIV and health initiatives to improve workplace health.
EABC REGIONAL SUPPORT FOR SECTOR SPECIFIC APPROACHES
Together with GTZ SPAA, EABC is focused on increasing sector clustering and addressing issues of relevance to specific sectors with regard to HIV and other Health Challenges.
The EABC sector workshop on HIV and Occupational health and safety, held in June 2010 brought together delegates from two sectors mainly chemical manufacturing and hotel accommodation industry to focus on how we could upscale health interventions by integrating HIV into occupational safety and health. This workshop brought together a total of 65 participants to discussing the possibility of integrating HIV into the already existing Occupational Safety and Health initiatives.
This focus was considered workable by most of the participants but required a lot of work to be done in harmonization of policies and approaches.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Compilation and harmonization of national laws on AIDS in the world of work
EABC is working in close collaboration with the East African Community secretariat, East African Legislative Assembly and the East African Law Society to ensure the development and enactment of relevant legislation on HIV and AIDS, as well as move toward the harmonization of regulations, codes and strategies in the various East African countries. To this end, the EABC is compiling the laws, codes and regulations from various countries that will form the basis of discussions in the future e.g. within the regional working group.
Sector/Industry- Specific Approaches to integrate HIV in occupational health
A study on industry specific approaches, to be carried out in collaborated with GTZ, is designed to identify the industries carrying out programmes on HIV and AIDS / health, needs for improvement and initiatives that are making a difference. Sector-specific approaches to HIV and AIDS and other health problems will provide guidance to companies on how to meet their specific health needs.
Since most industries are organized on the national level, capacity development can use existing association structures. Taking a regional approach to develop sectoral health programmes in the private sector creates synergies from similar needs in different countries.