ILO news (Washington) – On 21 July before the official start of the 19th International AIDS Conference, the ILO hosted a pre-conference event in collaboration with partners entitled “Actions against HIV and AIDS at workplace and the role of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs)”. This event brought together conference delegates, experts on workplace programmes and PPP, civil society organizations and donors.
In her welcoming address, Alice Ouedraogo, Director of the ILO Programme on HIV/AIDS and the World and Work (ILO/AIDS) stated that “the role of PPPs in the global response is yet to be fully optimized”. She explained that the purpose of the event was to assess progress, build on the past successes and chart a new path for future programmes.
Opening statements were provided by the Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS, representatives of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), the U.S. Department of Labor and the Global Network of People living with HIV and AIDS .
Jan Beagle, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director emphasized that “UNAIDS sees the AIDS response as pathfinder for broader health, human rights and development outcomes, as an engine for social change – towards more inclusive societies that take responsibility for investing in the health and dignity of all their people. Involvement of the world of work and workplaces is essential to create sustainable solutions for the AIDS response.“ She also conveyed the UNAIDS’ call for a new social compact where governments, donors, private sector, civil society and other stakeholders come together in new and innovative ways, sharing responsibility and accountability for results.
Innovative examples and lessons learnt on implementing PPPs were shared by the South African Business Coalition on HIV and AIDS (SABCOHA), Levi Strauss & Co., GBC Health, PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Global Fund highlighted the different entry points for private sector engagement in PPPs.
Recommendations on how HIV workplace programmes could be enhanced within national AIDS programmes were given by representatives from the National AIDS Council of Kenya, the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC). In his closing remarks, the National Working Positive Coalition reminded participants of the plight of the unemployed and stressed that having access to gainful employment should be recognized as a central component of care, support and treatment packages.
The event highlighted strategic PPPs added value in overcoming implementation bottlenecks and for enhancing access to essential HIV services. The prevailing financial climate makes PPPs and workplace programmes even more relevant today. An AIDS - free generation is possible in our lifetime if we focus on proven approaches.