Senior work officer in the Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Parliament, Work, Youth, Employment and Disabled) Ayoub Musa made the plea yesterday in Dar es Salaam during a one-day human resource meeting organised by the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Musa said that stigma and discrimination both at the community and workplace remain the great challenge which hampers the efforts to reduce new HIV infection and adherence to the treatment.
“Contemporary business environment needs not only skilled people, but it needs healthy and committed workforce to drive businesses for the national development. You will all agree with me that health and HIV/AIDS remain one of crosscutting agenda in enhancing productivity and economic growth in our country,” he said.
According to him, since the discovery of HIV/AIDs in the country, government and various stakeholders had done a great job in reducing the prevalence by educating people about the disease.
For his part, ATE board member Kabeho Solo, speaking on behalf of the association’s executive director Dr Aggrey Mlimuka also reminded members and all employers to put in place and implement occupational health and safety policy as required by the law.
He also urged the government to allocate enough resources to occupational health and safety authority (OSHA) to give financial relief to employers when accessing occupational health and safety services.
Solo also admitted that stigma among HIV employees was still a challenge in some of companies thus needed more concentrated efforts to fight it.
He noted that the study conducted by ILO (2014) on stigma and discrimination revealed that 6 per cent of employees who disclosed their HIV status encountered stigma and discrimination from their employers and supervisors.
“Occupational health and safety is still a big challenge affecting all socio – economic sectors in Tanzania. Occupational accidents and illness impose a burden to government, employers and the individual as well thus affecting the productivity and business reputation,” he said.
According to him, while the country is struggling to increase occupational health and safety services to majority of Tanzanians, prevention and control of occupational accidents and illness is the key element.
ILO National HIV/Aids coordinator Getrude Sima called for more concerted efforts to curb HIV spread and stigma in the country.
She also appealed to employers in the country to develop and reinforce the HIV/Aids policy to improve the quality of life of employees living with the virus.