Ministerial Committee on HIV/AIDS launched
Stabroek News
January 31, 2007

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Minister of Labour Manzoor Nadir says a Ministerial Committee on HIV/AIDS was on Tuesday launched to educate employees about the infection and the support programmes available to help them to cope with it in the workplace.

According to a press release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) the committee, which comprises agents from the Planning and Recruitment and Occupational Safety and Health divisions, representatives from the Consultative Association of Guyanese Industry and the Health Sector Development Unit (HSDU) at the Ministry of Health, will work along with employers, employees, union members and representatives of all organisations in the public and private sector to educate them about the infection. This entails informing them about its causes, methods of prevention and support programmes.

Nadir said this programme is vital as the country's workforce exceeds 240,000 people.

GINA said huge sums have been spent to inform citizens about the dangers of the disease and the Labour Ministry has selected a point-person within the ministry who will be responsible for implementing the inter-ministry HIV/AIDS workplace programme. Nadir said this programme is not a duplicate of the current workplace programme the ministry is spearheading, "but one that would be focusing mainly on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH). The committee's tasks include setting up an institutional framework and crafting policy documents on the programme which will include its target audience among other critical elements. Nadir said members of the National Tripartite Committee on HIV/AIDS recently met and a sub-committee was established to collaborate with the OSH department on advancing the programme. Patrick Mentore, of the health ministry's HSDU, said this collaboration is part of a US$11M, three-year government/Inter-American Development Bank programme which started in 2005 with seven ministries.

Mentore advised that the ministry focus on the internal aspects of the programme to involve all in the education process and choose another point-person for this initiative. He also pledged the unit's continued assistance in implementing the initial stages of the programme. Under the government/ International Labour Organi-sation programme, 14 of 18 local enterprises that were selected for the three-year programme are working in conformity with the guidelines as they relate to educating employees.

The committee was launched at the ministry's Water and Cornhill streets office.