Building Workplace Capacity to Combat HIV/AIDS in Nigeria
The Building Workplace Capacity to Combat HIV-AIDS in Nigeria Project implemented in partnership with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has entered its second phase with the establishment of Voluntary Counselling and Confidential Testing (VCCT) facilities in Abuja. The VCCT Centre has become popular with workers travelling to Abuja-federal capital and exceeded its monthly target attendance by a wide margin.
The Project aimed at contributing to a reduction in the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, better protection of employment and human rights and to the elimination of stigma and discrimination associated with the pandemic in the Education and Health Sectors in Nigeria was launched in Abuja, Nigeria, in July 2009. It strives to achieve this through a change in sexual behaviour and enhanced protection of rights and entitlements of workers living with HIV/AIDS through effective enforcement of the National Workplace Policies (NWP) on HIV/AIDS. A comprehensive training and education programme is underway to equip appropriate union officials with the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise to disseminate the information on the prevention of infection at workplace, provide counselling and to conduct negotiations. The establishment of a VCCT facility at the Jikwoyi Primary Health Care Centre, Abuja, as a pilot initiative is an innovative feature which facilitates early diagnosis, treatment, care and support for formal and informal economy workers in the local community. The national lobbying campaign on anti-discrimination legislation is strengthening the advocacy in favour of the adoption of the Bill on Stigma and Discrimination on PLHIV to protect the rights and entitlements of workers.
National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM)
Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN)
Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT)
Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU)
Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics (SSANIP)
Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU)
Voluntary Counselling and Confidential Testing
The establishment of a Voluntary Counseling and Confidential Testing Centre on 5 July 2010 at the Jikwoyi Primary Health Care Centre marked the beginning of project activities in Year II. A second site was started on 9 July 2010 due to increased demand for VCCT with the support of volunteers trained under the Project at the Gwarinpa Hospital, making it possible to cater to the needs of workers travelling to the metropolis for routine business. By the end of September, 2,069 people had attended the two VCCT Centres and 156 of them had tested positive and been referred to appropriate hospitals for treatment, care, support and follow-up. The Federal Capital Territory was chosen for the establishment of VCCT Centres, as it has the 3rd highest prevalence rate in the country. The average monthly attendance (689) at the two clinics has exceeded the target (300) set under the Project.
Partnering with Orasure Technologies (USA)
Collaboration has commenced between the NLC and Orasure Technologies, producers of Oraquick Advance Rapid HIV1/2 antibody test. The initiative follows the meetings that Esther Ogunfowora, Project Coordinator, had with the Company at the International AIDS Conference (IAC) held in Vienna, Austria, in July 2010. The Company headquartered in the USA is the pioneer and market leaders in the diagnosis based on oral fluids. On 17 August 2010, a presentation on the product was made at the Congress Headquarters by Mr. Joseph Wussen, Director of Sales, South Africa and Brian Grid, Vice President of the Company based in the United Kingdom, accompanied by Dr. Attah of National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA). The presentation of the product was followed by the training of 40 counsellors on the use of Oraquick Advance Rapid HIV antibody test for the diagnosis of HIV1/2.
The training of trade union officials from participating unions in the preventive aspects of the pandemic as well as in the protection of employment and human rights through the implementation of a national workplace policy is in progress. Since the launch of the Project in June 2010, 2,278 trade union officials have attended courses. The awareness-raising programmes conducted under the Project were attended by 219 trade union officials, representatives from civil society organisations and NLC Women's Committee members.
Reaching out to workplaces
Information and education activities targeted on workplaces have continued, enabling some 11,500 workers to learn more about the transmission of HIV infection as well as preventive methods. The outreach programme is making a valuable contribution to publicizing the availability of VCCT services under the Project. The six partner unions involved in the Project has been organizing lunch time activities at workplaces since December 2009. Participants are provided with easily accessible useful and reliable information on HIV/AIDS, which helps them to make informed choices about their own health and wellbeing. Moreover, they have access to information on the protection of their employment rights and entitlements and are advised of the need for the implementation of workplace policies on HIV/AIDS.
Developing workplace policies
Two policy reviews have been held with the participation of all major stakeholders in the Project with a view to assessing the adequacy and relevance of the National Workplace Policy in light of the ILO Recommendation on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work and to explore ways and means of ensuring its compatibility.
The Project played host to Mark keen and Hatty Dinsmore of the IOD PARC (UK) - independent evaluators commissioned by the TUC as part of an agreement with the DFID to carry out an evaluation. The evaluators had the opportunity to hold discussions with the Project Staff, visit project sites and offices of participating unions and meet project beneficiaries. In addition, they paid a visit to the Voluntary Counselling and Confidential Testing (VCCT) site in Jikwoyi and Gwarinpa, where they interviewed the VCCT officer, some volunteers and a person living with HIV/AIDS volunteering for the Project.
Issued: 26 November, 2010