Government intensifies workplace HIV and AIDS education campaign

Government on Friday tasked ministries, departments and agencies to intensify workplace HIV and AIDS education campaign to prevent its spread among workers and also provide care, support and counseling for the affected persons.

“Government acknowledges that HIV and AIDS pose a serious medical and economic threat to the Ghanaian workforce.”

“The HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy therefore seeks to prevent the spread of HIV amongst workers and protect workers rights to foster social responsibility,” Mrs Zita Okaikoi, the Minister of Tourism told the Ghana News Agency, at the end of a two-day workshop to sensitize stakeholders and staff of the tourism sector.

The Workshop organized by the Ministry was on the theme; “Workplace HIV and AIDS Policy and Technical Guidelines for the Tourism Industry”.

It sought to empower participants on HIV and AIDS in the hospitality sector, impact on family, community and workplace and adopt steps to mitigate its spread.

Mrs Okaikoi said it is time for all MDAs, educational institutions and the business community to critically ensure the implementation of the HIV and AIDS Policy and the technical guidelines for workers.

She acknowledged that though the Ministry of Health (MOH) had the overall responsibility in ensuring that the policy was implemented, “We must all get involved to bring the spread to the barest minimum.

“While some Ministries may not find it a compelling agenda the Tourism Ministry by its cross-ministerial nature cannot afford to shelve this vital responsibility.”

“It is therefore pertinent for you to be schooled on aspects of this life threatening infection so as to be able to convincingly impart the knowledge to the numerous customers you encounter in the course of your work”.

Nii Sarpei of the Centre for Community Studies Action and Development (CENCOSAD), facilitators of the workshop, said stigma and discrimination inhibited HIV and AIDS prevention.

He said: “everyone can help us in dealing with stigma and discrimination by talking openly about sex and abstinence; care for the PLWHA; leaders can declare their HIV and AIDS status to the communities they lead in order to encourage their subjects to go for voluntary counseling and testing”.

Nii Sarpei called for intensification of the campaign for attitudinal change to deal with the spread of HIV and AIDS, stigma and discrimination.

The workshop was attended by operators of the hospitality including managers and staffs of hotels, tourists’ centres, chop bar operators, staff and senior officials of the Ministry of Tourism.

Source: GNA

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