Ensuring Sustainability: The successful partnership between the private sector and the health-at-work agents in Burkina Faso

Article | 01 August 2008

Burkina Faso – August 2008

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With the technical assistance of the International Labour Organization (ILO), 16 enterprises in 6 sectors of the economy in Burkina Faso are engaged in the pilot HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Programme. This programme focuses on HIV/AIDS risk modification and one of its main objectives is to address HIV related stigma and discrimination. An approximate 9,000 workers are actively engaged in this initiative. From the onset of the programme, the ILO’s time-bound technical assistance and the need for further national expansion posed a great challenge for the implementers and threatened the sustainability of the initiative.


Health-at-work agents are government officials from the Office of Workers’ Health of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in Burkina Faso. They are in charge of the protection of the health and security of the workers. In the past, HIV and AIDS were not part of their “health promotion package” and responsibility. However, to date, 49 agents have officially been trained as HIV educators and HIV prevention is a core element of their health promotion messages. Additionally, they assist enterprises in formulating and implementing HIV workplace policies.

Lessons learned

This alliance has generated a stronger collaborative milieu between the government, the enterprises and the workers for a stronger multi-sector response to the HIV epidemic in Burkina Faso. It has allowed for the pooling of resources and set the platform for a concerted and sustainable response to HIV and AIDS at the enterprise level. In addition, the use of an already existing and government-supported foundation has led to the successful nationwide promotion of the workplace as a platform for access to HIV and AIDS related services.

Next steps

  • Steady endorsement of this programme is vital for the national scaling-up of HIV/AIDS workplace programmes; and
  • Refresher courses on HIV and AIDS for the health-at-work agents is important to maintain high quality service delivery.