HIV / AIDS Guidelines of the Retail Sector Launched

Health is key to economic development, hence the need for the retail sector to embrace the national HIV/AIDS guidelines.

News | Lusaka | 21 September 2017
Speaking during the launch of the HIV/AIDS guidelines at Raddisonblu hotel on Tuesday 19th September, 2017, Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry, permanent secretary Kayula Siame stated that for Zambia to attain economic growth, there was need to promote good health by having available health services to the retail sector, which remained the fastest growing sector in the country.

“We all know that to attain economic growth we need to promote good health among key players and the retail sector cannot be left behind if visible strides are to be made.” Ms Siame said.

She commended the International labour Organization for initiating the launch of the guidelines which she said was a milestone in the fight of the epidemic. She noted that the guidelines would stimulate growth in the economy because once implemented, the sector would ensure health becomes a priority.

And Lusaka mayor, His worship Wilson Kalumba challenged the retail Professional to raise to the occasion and effectively sharpen the HIV and AIDS response in retail workplaces and across the sector’s supply chains through various programmes that will sensitize workers and customers.

“Existing workplace policies and programmes on HIV and AIDS and health related issues should be examined with a view to their improvement. If a workplace does not have such structures, they must be developed” His worship emphasized.

Mr Kalumba said the launch of the HIV and AIDS Guidelines is not only timely, but also relevant, primarily because the retail commerce sector in Zambia is growing at a fast rate and has a work force that includes a large number of young persons, who are within the age group which is the most sexually active and are often inadequately covered in the AIDS response.

Meanwhile International Labour Organisation Country Director Alexio Musindo said the guidelines were part of the sectorial programme of action that highlighted a road map for the roll out of implementation of the guidelines in different regions of the country and workplaces.

Mr Musindo said the impact of the HIV epidemic on the workplace is distinctive and requires policies that specifically address workplace issues. He added that to be successful, the response by employers, trade unions and governments/public authorities to HIV and AIDS issues in the workplace should be inclusive and coordinated.

He said according to SA research, the retail companies reported that effects of HIV and AIDS on their businesses indicated that 21 percent had lower productivity/increased absenteeism; 14 percent had higher labour turnover rates; 12 per cent lost experience and vital skills, while 8 percent of retail companies reported that their suppliers had indicated that they had been adversely affected by HIV and AIDS.

With this background only 15% had developed an HIV/AIDS policy and 6% implemented with Zambia needing information, Mr. Musindo disclosed

The guidelines are based on the general principles that are established by the ILO HIV and AIDS Recommendation, 2010 (No. 200), which in turn expands upon the ten key principles set out in the ILO Code of Practice.