From workplace to the community

THE success of our workplace programme, begun in 2004, laid an important foundation for the private partnership mix (PPM).

THE success of our workplace programme, begun in 2004, laid an important foundation for the private partnership mix (PPM).

We could take the lessons and methodologies from the workplace and apply them directly to the partnership.

We deliberately designed a comprehensive workplace programme that included health literacy, peer education through our "Wellness Champions", routine health- risk screening and primary care. Our programme was also open to contractors and dependants.

The goal has always been to achieve 100percent success rates in encouraging people to take part in voluntary counselling and testing (VCT).

Our Wellness Champions are key to increasing the amount of people who test. These people are volunteers from the community who help educate people about HIV and encourage VCT among employees.

The Wellness Champions provide a trusted external voice within a work environment, which helps to gain people's confidence and understanding.

By 2005, the percentage of our employees taking part in VCT programmes rose to almost 80percent, with over 50percent of HIV-positive employees receiving treatment by 2006 - the year in which we won the Business Excellence in Testing and Counselling Award from the Global Business Coalition on HIV-Aids. In 2009 alone, we tested over 70percent of our workers.

A core workplace campaign that we took into homes was our "I Know! the Way to Live" campaign that encourages people to undertake VCT. Our Outreach Workers use the campaign to mobilise people in the community. They are now well recognised and are key to the PPM as they have gained the respect and trust of people through home contact. This can also help reduce the stigma associated with HIV so that it is treated like any other disease.

We also work with key influencers within the community such as faith-based organisations and traditional healers to make sure that people are aware of VCT and antiretroviral therapy (ART) and how it works. Some traditional healers work with our clinics to ensure that patients are not using traditional medicines in a way that could negatively affect the treatment regimes.

The three years of the PPM, combined with five years of our workplace programme, now gives us the opportunity to extend the PPM to other areas - such as setting up micro-enterprise projects for women who no longer have an income. Other projects include gardens attached to the clinics to teach people how to grow their own food and ensure food security.