Leaders call for intensified effort against HIV/AIDS in the world of work

Business, labour and government leaders, meeting at International AIDS Conference's Leadership Forum, calls for increased resources and commitment to fight HIV/AIDS in the workplace.

Press release | BANGKOK | 15 July 2004

BANGKOK (ILO News) – Business, labour and government leaders, meeting here at the XVth International AIDS Conference, today called for increased resources and commitment to fight HIV/AIDS in the workplace.

A statement issued here at the end of the Leadership Forum organized by the International Labour Office (ILO) said, “We, leaders and representatives of the world of work…commit to strengthening and accelerating action on HIV/AIDS in the workplace.”

“We recognize the direct impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on the world of work, both the formal and informal economies,” the statement said, referring to new ILO global estimates released Monday indicating that some 36.5 million working age people are presently living with HIV/AIDS. “We also recognize that the workplace provides a vital entry point for provision of education, care and treatment and activities to combat discrimination.

“This joint statement gives voice to that recognition, hereby calling governments, employers and their member organisations, and trade unions and their members to give the issue the highest priority,” the statement said.

The world of work leaders agreed that efforts need to be expanded and resources mobilized to develop and implement effective responses to the humanitarian and development challenges of HIV/AIDS. They also expressed concerns that “stigma, silence, denial and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS increases the impact of the epidemic and constitutes a major barrier to an effective response. Addressing these issues lies at the heart of successful workplace programmes.”

“The strong and effective presence of leaders in the world of work—represented by the ILO’s tripartite constituents—in the International AIDS Conference attests to the importance and contribution of the ‘workplace’ to national efforts to combat HIV/AIDS,” said Franklyn Lisk, Director of the ILO Programme on HIV/AIDS in the world of work.

The participants in the forum also called for increased access and involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS in planning and implementation of workplace programmes.

“We reaffirm that the ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work provides a framework for workplace action and the promotion of good practice in policy formulation and programme implementation,” the statement said. “We call on all leaders in the world of work to generate the resources urgently required for the financing of a sustainable expansion of workplace activities in all regions.”

Participants in the leadership forum included, from governments, Ms. Bakoko Bakuru, Minister of Labour, Gender and Social Development, Uganda, Mr. Thapabutr Jamasevi, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Thailand, Mr Suthep Ounsamai, Deputy Director General, Department for Labour, Protection and Welfare, Thailand, Ms. Wilaiwan Koykaewpring, Department for Labour Protection and Welfare, Thailand, Ms Zulmia Yanri, Director, OSH Standard Division, Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, Indonesia and Dr Anna Marzek-Boguslauska, Director of the National AIDS Centre, Poland.

From the employers’ side, Mr Antonio Peñalosa, Secretary General, International Organisation of Employers, Switzerland was joined by Mr Frederick Muia, IOE Regional Adviser for Africa , Ms Siriwan Romchatthong, Executive Director, Employers Confederation of Thailand and Mr Anthony Pramualratana, Executive Director, Thai Business Coalition on AIDS, Thailand .

From the workers’ organisations: Mr Andrew Kailembo, General Secretary, ICFTU AFRO, Kenya attended along with Ms Angela Lomosi, HIV/AIDS Coordinator, ICFTU/AFRO, Kenya, Ms Clementine Dehwe, Global Unions HIV/AIDS Coordinator, ICFTU, Brussels, Mr Surat Chanwanpen, Deputy Director-General, LCT, Thailand and Ms Supatra Nacapew, Director, Centre for AIDS Rights, Thailand