Building Workplace Capacity to combat HIV/AIDS in Nigeria
Training and education activities under the Building Workplace Capacity to combat HIV/AIDS in Nigeria Project funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) are currently underway. The Project launched in July 2009 in collaboration with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had imparted training and education on HIV/AIDS prevention for 76 trade union officials by the end of 2009 and marked the World AIDS Day with a solidarity march by workers to the Labour House - NLC Head Office in Abuja.
The Project is designed to contribute to a drop in the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, better protection of employment and human rights of workers infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS and to the elimination of stigma and discrimination against them in the Education and Health Sectors in Nigeria. This is to be achieved through a change in sexual behaviour resulting from increased awareness of the causes of infection, enhanced protection of rights and entitlements of workers living with HIV/AIDS through the enactment and enforcement of anti-discrimination legislation and through collective bargaining with employers on 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 infections 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 will be an innovative feature of the Project and lead to early diagnosis, treatment, care and support for formal and informal economy workers in the local community. The national lobbying campaign on anti-discrimination legislation will strengthen 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)
The first Meeting of the Project Steering Committee (PSC) of the Building Workplace Capacity to combat HIV/AIDS in Nigeria Project held on 17 August 2009 at the Bolton White Hotel, Abuja, marked the launch of the initiative funded by the UK Department for International Development through TUC Aid. Bandula Kothalawala, TUC International Officer, represented TUC Aid. In his opening remarks, John Odah, NLC General Secretary, commended TUC Aid for supporting the unions in the sectors concerned in their efforts to build workplace capacity to combat the pandemic and assured full co-operation and support in the implementation of the Project. In September, a project implementation plan was agreed at a three-day workshop held with the participation of all partners and the NLC while the leaders of the six participating unions expressed their commitment to, and support for, the Project at a leadership seminar held in October 2009.
Training and education activities began with the organisation of workshops for officials in the health and education sectors held in October and November 2009. 76 participants (46 female officials and 30 male officials) received detailed and up-to-date information on the pandemic with special emphasis on the risks of infection and ways and means of effective prevention. Moreover, they learnt about the difficulties facing colleagues with HIV/AIDS and the need for action to combat stigma and discrimination at workplace.
The Initiative for Breaking Barriers in Development for Women and Youths (BDID) was commissioned to do a baseline survey to establish the level of awareness of the HIV/AIDS and related facts among trade union members in the six affiliated unions taking part in the Project. The findings pointed to high levels of awareness among those interviewed while the knowledge of the epidemiological transmission was found to be nadequate. Moreover, the findings revealed the gender disparities relating to the impact of the pandemic which need to be addressed.
Production of Information, Education and Campaign material
Materials consisting of handbills, stickers, posters, T-shirts and caps were produced in bulk to be used in the information and education campaign. Some of the material was pre-tested in the Awareness Training Workshops conducted for both education and Health sectors. As part of the plan for effective dissemination of information and awareness-raising on HIV/AIDS among the six targeted unions, six DVDs and six television sets were made available to the unions concerned. Plans are underway to acquire more audio-visual material from other stakeholders for workplace education programmes on HIV/AIDS.
A comprehensive manual with different modules dealing with various aspects of the HIV/AIDS prevention has been developed and will be used as a guide for trainers and peer educators conducting training for trade union colleagues on the shop floor. The manual initially produced by the ITUC-Africa and already in use as a guide by a number of national trade union centres in Africa was extensively revised and adapted for the needs of the training programmes to be carried out under the Project.
Progress is reported in the search for an appropriate location for the Voluntary Counselling and Confidential Testing clinic to be established at the Jikwoyi Primary health Care Centre. Following a meeting with Philip Aduda, Member of the Federal House of Representatives representing the Abuja Municipal Council Area, agreement has been reached to erect a structure for the VCCT services as part of his support for the Project. A committee composed of the NLC Project Coordinator, the senior legislative aide to Philip Aduda and the Matron of the Health Centre was set up to ensure the completion of the structure on time. The VCCT facility is scheduled to be operational by July 2010.
World AIDS Day
This year's events were organised by the NLC as part of Project activities. The day started with a solidarity march from the Berger Junction to Labour House, (a walk of about 10 kilometres). Education and information material was distributed by activists in the course of the march.
The WAD event ended with a presentation on universal access to services. A worker living with HIV/AIDS from the National Union of Textile, Tailoring and Garment Workers shared his experience with the participants. He emphasized the role played by his union in his reinstatement after he lost his job following the knowledge of his status by the management. He reiterated the need to step up awareness-raising and for union leaders to be proactive in ensuring the enforcement of workplace specific policies and the inclusion of HIV/AIDS issue in collective bargaining agreements.
The NLC collaborated with the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa Nigeria (SWAAN) in December 2009 in the dissemination of information on HIV/AIDS and the provision of VCCT services in Jos Plateau State under the Harmattan School programme - series of activities supported by the NLC to enhance the capacity of workers to effectively address the issues affecting the workplace and society at large. Some newspapers - Guardian, Business Eye and the Nation - reported on the project activities organized by the NLC on the World AIDS Day.
The Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities conducted a one-day training programme on HIV/AIDS for the staff of the National Orientation on Technology Acquisition Board and Raw Materials Research Council of Nigeria in Abuja on 4 December 2009. It featured discussions around basic facts, stigma and discrimination and the need for a workplace policy on HIV/AIDS. The Amalgamated Union of Public Cooperation, Technical and Recreation Employees (AUPCTRE) whose union membership cuts across both the health and education sectors also took part in the programme. The Union carried out a sensitization program at the Federal Capital Territory Water Board on 16 December 2009. A person living with HIV/AIDS attended the event and shared experience with the participants. In addition, the NLC liaised with the Society for Family Health (SFH) to provide VCCT services.36 people took part in the programme. One person who tested positive was referred to the Wuse General Hospital for further treatment, care and support.
Campaigning and Lobbying
The NLC made representations to the Public Hearing on the proposed legislation to ban discrimination - an Act to prohibit and punish Discrimination against People Living with HIV/AIDS- conducted by the Joint House Committees on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria, Leprosy control and Human Rights of Nigeria's Federal House of Representatives on 24 November 2009. In its presentation, the NLC raised a number of issues relating to employment and human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS contained in the proposed legislation, highlighted some key features such as the criminalization of deliberate transmission of the pandemic and its unintended consequences and recommended that the gender dimension of the disease be recognized in the Bill.