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Nov 28, 2007

Labour Ministry targets AIDS in the workplace

Story PictureChildren were not the only focus of activists today as an event in Belize City highlighted the impact of AIDS on the world of work. News Five’s Marion Ali has the story.

Marion Ali, Reporting
Today personnel from the Ministry of Labour held an open day in conjunction with World AIDS Week. The event was held to highlight the Ministry’s services as they pertain to H.I.V./AIDS in the workplace and was in collaboration with several other social partners. Minister of Labour, Francis Fonseca, said his Ministry and government recognize the critical nature of the threat of the disease and will have to take innovative measures to respond.

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Labour
“Too many in our society still lack a proper understanding of the causes and effects of HIV/AIDS. This is why we must continue to be aggressive in expanding our coordinated response to achieving our ultimate goal of developing a sustainable national program on HIV/AIDS and the world of work that is fully integrated into the programmes of government and the other national partners. This will require further strengthening of capacity at the policy and operational levels, increasing the number of targeted enterprises, particularly in the tourism informal sectors, the agricultural sectors as well as improving programmes directed at counselling, testing, referrals, treatment, care and support.”

Two of the parties that took part in the day’s activities were the National Trade Union Congress of Belize and the Pan American Social Marketing Organization.

Chadrick Tingling, Public Relations Officer, PASMO
“We’re just here to assist and to help in the best way we can.”

Marion Ali
“What’s the message? You know Belize ranks amongst the highest within the Caribbean and Central America per capita of infected persons. How do you feel your input will make a significant change or help this to turn around?”

Chadrick Tingling
““We are all doing the same to help change the behaviour of others out there who keep thinking one negative way and we are trying to change them into a positive way to try to change the behaviour which they have by reducing the amount of sexual partners, by start using their protection and so forth.”

Dylan Reneau, General Secretary, N.T.U.C.B.
“Each of the unions within the National Trade Union Congress they have what is call focal points for HIV, point of contact person for HIV/AIDS. We have HIV/AIDS committees within the various unions. We do training for workers on HIV and AIDS. We produce educational material on HIV and AIDS. So we are also trying to sensitize at the same time trying to lessen discrimination and stigma on HIV and AIDS. That’s or basic message.”

Marion Ali
“Do you feel that people take heed to this message?”

Dylan Reneau
“Yes they do. Certainly it has to be repetitive to catch
but it has to be done.”

The Ministry also issued a “User friendly guide to implementing an H.I.V./AIDS policy in the workplace”. It’s available at labour offices countrywide.

Marion Ali, Reporting for News Five.

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