Global Health Initiative Urges Large Businesses To Help Smaller Ones To Step Up The Fight Against HIV/AIDS
A proven new approach whereby large companies help smaller ones in their supply chain tackle HIV/AIDS at the workplace could help save millions of lives in Africa alone
Geneva, Switzerland, 16 August 2006 – In a major step to help businesses across Africa to scale up their response to the global HIV/AIDS threat, the Global Health Initiative (GHI) of the World Economic Forum today launches a set of guidelines – based on a new proven approach – aimed at enabling small and medium size companies (SMEs) to implement HIV/AIDS workplace programmes.
“In Africa today around 60-70% of multinational and large national companies have HIV/AIDS workplace programmes. These companies however employ at best one-third of Africa’s workforce, while over 50% is employed by small and medium size enterprises,” said Francesca Boldrini, Director, Global Health Initiative, World Economic Forum. “It is estimated that only around 20% of these businesses actually have HIV/AIDS programmes in place; we need to find new ways to mobilize efforts against HIV/AIDS among these smaller businesses – our new programme has shown it can do just that,” she added.
The new Guidelines to Protect Your Supply Chain are designed to help multinational corporations extend their existing awareness, prevention, treatment and care programmes to companies in their supply chain, who are typically less able to protect their employees, mostly because of resource constraints.
The publication of the guidelines is based on a successful 12 month pilot programme, in which 5 pioneering multinational companies across Africa – Eskom, Heineken, Standard Chartered Bank, Unilever and Volkswagen – worked with some of their suppliers on awareness, treatment and prevention programmes, and tracked best practice.
“Implementing a supply chain programme makes sense from a number of perspectives. From a business point of view it is essential that we protect our supply chain from the disruption that can be caused by this disease – good health means good business; while morally we feel it’s right for us to share our knowledge and expertise with our business partners,” commented Brian Smith, Volkswagen’s Human Resources Director in South Africa.
During the course of the pilot, the initiatives of the five companies were able to reach approximately 50,000 people with lifesaving HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and treatment programmes. By scaling up the programme to encompass all the suppliers of these five companies alone, an incredible total of 1 million people could be reached. This highlights the amazing potential of this type of initiative if more companies were to run similar programmes for their supply chains.
“The effects of HIV/AIDS have started to decimate the labour force in many African economies to a point where small companies are really feeling the effect. If large companies take up the approach we have tested and outline in the new guidelines, they can reach smaller companies in their supply chain and help them protect their employees too,” concluded Boldrini.
Note to Editors:
The guidelines can be found online at http://www.weforum.org/pdf/supplychain.pdf
About the World Economic Forum’s Global Health Initiative
The goal of the World Economic Forum’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) is to facilitate and stimulate greater business engagement in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria. To achieve this goal, the GHI works closely with the World Economic Forum’s member companies as well as UNAIDS and the World Health Organization’s Stop TB and Roll Back Malaria partnerships. A broad range of NGOs and other members of civil society, as well as governments, have also joined the efforts of the GHI.. The GHI provides a unique platform for dialogue, partnership and action on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria involving both the private and the public sector. It coordinates a community of more than 160 companies that are confronting similar fundamental health challenges to their operations. In particular, the GHI provides a forum to share experiences, to define generally accepted standards and to act as an advocate for the private sector.
The pilot project “How multinationals can support small and medium size enterprises” was supported by Accenture, the Swedish International Development Agency, UNAIDS and the World Bank.
The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests. (http://www.weforum.org)
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