PREVENTION AND THE WORKPLACE
175. We would also mention briefly the importance
of prevention in the workplace. We were pleased to hear of the
prevention work being done by, for example, Anglo American, Standard
Chartered Bank and Glaxo Wellcome, all of which gave oral evidence
to the Committee,
and by Trade Unions.
The TUC said, "The workplace in both formal and informal
sectors is one of the most important points of focus for initiatives
to tackle the disastrous effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic as it
provides access to a large, yet captive audience. Many workplaces
possess the infrastructure for training and education activities
which can be utilised for HIV/AIDS awareness and training campaigns".
We are convinced that the opportunities of the workplace provide
some of the most important means of prevention, and indeed care,
in the developing world.
176. A number of prevention strategies were raised
in evidence. We can only list here some of the most important
- the provision of condoms
- the provision of health education, and in particular
information on HIV/AIDS
- the provision of voluntary testing and counselling
- basic care for STDs and opportunistic infections
- the protection of the employment, legal and human
rights of HIV-positive workers
- prevention work with consumers, families of workers,
and with small and medium sized enterprises linked to the company
- the proper treatment of migrant workers, including
suitable accommodation, the possibility of workers' sexual partners
also living with them, the provision of leisure facilities
- prevention work amongst commercial sex workers
with whom members of the workforce might be in contact
177. This list is by no means exhaustive and the
items are not in order of importance. For effective prevention
and care a package of measures is necessary. Research has made
clear that such interventions by business save money as sickness,
absenteeism and deaths, with all their costs, are reduced. We
discuss prevention in the workplace here not because it is neglected
as an issue. There is now a considerable body of good practice
and informative literature to draw on. We noted, however, DFID's
admission that "Up to now, working directly with the large
employers in developing countries has not been part of our approach".
We were told it was an area DFID were "beginning to explore".
We wish to stress the important role that DFID and other donors
can play as catalysts to such workplace prevention and care. This
can involve initial funding of programmes (though companies should
take over beyond the experimental stage) and the provision of
178. DFID should also be involved in advocacy
of workplace interventions. We quote Save The Children, "DFID
should ... proactively work with the DTI and the FCO to use every
available channel to urge large British companies operating overseas
to take positive action to protect and promote the rights of people
infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. In addition, as part of its
anti-poverty mandate, DFID should work with foreign governments,
chambers of commerce and other bilateral and multilateral donors
to urge foreign companies, large and small, to do the same".
We recommend that DFID engage in discussions with British industry,
in particular such bodies as Chambers of Commerce and the Confederation
of British Industry, to promote the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention
and care when operating in developing countries with high HIV/AIDS
179. Such advocacy is also necessary within Whitehall.
We recommend that ECGD only support projects where consideration
has been given to the vulnerability of the workforce to HIV/AIDS
and what can be done to prevent infection. There are good
examples of such practice from the World Bank, amongst others.
More generally, Ethical Trading Initiative members should take
HIV/AIDS into account when vetting overseas suppliers. We
were told this issue was currently under discussion.
We also recommend that DTI in promoting investment and trading
opportunities overseas discuss HIV/AIDS, making clear that it
does not preclude profitability but that it is vital to take the
epidemic into account in workplace policies, including prevention,
care and employment rights.