Ending discrimination, Scaling up HIV Testing and Treatment for workers

Inaugural address by Mr. Satoshi Sasaki, Deputy Director, ILO DWT and Country Office - New Delhi at National Workshop on Ending Discrimination, Scaling up HIV testing and Treatment for workers.

Statement | New Delhi, India | 18 October 2019

Good morning and welcome!

On behalf of the ILO, I welcome you all to this two-day training programme on ending discrimination, scaling up HIV testing and treatment for workers. We are happy to work with NACO in putting together this workshop for the officers of State AIDS Control Societies and various ministries and departments. I am very happy to see such good participation from states and thank all of you for being here.

As you may know, the ILO is the lead UN agency for HIV and AIDS in workplace and private sector response. We are engaged in HIV and AIDS response in India since 2000, working with our constituents - Ministry of Labour and Employment, employers’ and workers’ organizations - NACO, UNAIDS and the PLHIV networks.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment has developed the National Policy on HIV/AIDS and the world of work in 2009 and has mainstreamed HIV/AIDS issues among its institutions. In the past years, we have developed models and tools, training manuals, and good practices. We have also worked with selected State AIDS Control Societies and tried our best to help them expand their workplace initiatives. Now, the ILO is engaged in VCT@WORK campaign that aims to promote voluntary counselling and testing among workers. A significant number of people living with HIV still do not know their status. The VCT at Work initiative, therefore, is critically important and useful for the infected people to understand their status early and access treatment on time.

With the availability of Anti-Retroviral Treatment, people with HIV can live a long productive life. We must scale up the VCT initiative. It is also the right time to see the impact of our collective work done in the past years. We need to move forward to assess the uptake of services for workers. With this intention, the ILO worked with NACO to look into the Integrated Counseling and Testing Centers data about testing of workers. We have just completed this exercise. It provides very relevant information and insights for better positioning of workplace programme in India. In this workshop, you will have a presentation and discussion on the ICTC data analysis. That will provide us with ideas for focusing the work in economic sectors where HIV positivity is high in states.

HIV/AIDS workplace policy and programmes are central to the ILO’s work - to protect the rights of workers living with HIV/AIDS, provide them social protection. It is our pleasure to work with NACO and State AIDS Control Societies in this respect. We have documented good practices from your work on Public Private Partnerships for covering contractual workers, workers in supply chains, mobile and migrant workers and communities. We have achieved a lot. But many workers still need support in prevention, detection and treatment of AIDS. It is still business unfinished.

The ILO is committed to offering technical support to expand workplace interventions against HIV/AIDS in India. I hope the workshop will provide a good forum for sharing and learning from each other.

I wish you all the best!