#Article (Archive)

UN staff and families sensitized on co-operative techniques

Dec 9, 2013, 10:26 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

Members of the United Nations staff residing in The Gambia alongside with their families gathered at the weekend at SunSwing Beach Resort for a daylong sensitization on HIV in the workplace.

The workshop was organised by the Joint Team on HIV and AIDs targeted mainly for UN staff and their families.

The workshop, which seeks to create awareness for UN staff and families, was geared to expose them on various thematic areas, which include HIV and Aids in The Gambia, the national response in summary, post-exposure prophylaxis protocol - what UN staff and dependents need to know, voluntary counseling and testing-services and procedures, TB/HIV CO-infection among other related issues on HIV/AIDS.

In her official opening statement, resident coordinator Josefa Marrato described the day as a very significant event in the calendar of the UN.

According to her, such forums provide information and training to UN staff and their families on HIV and AIDS as part of ‘UN Cares’.

She noted that AIDS is a workplace issue for many economists as well as social reasons, stigma and discrimination can all threaten the fundamental rights of employees living with HIV.

“The loss of workers, and their skills and experience, can increase the burden on the remaining workplace, lowering morale and reducing productivity,” she said.

She said the UN Cares HIV in the workplace programme is designed to reduce the impact of HIV on the UN workplace by supporting universal access to a comprehensive range of benefits for all UN personnel and their families, and through expanding access to HIV Prevention, treatment care and support services directly to employees.

According to her, HIV and AIDS affect everyone and the UN is no exception, noting that conservative estimates by UNAIDS show that 1.5 percent of all UN personnel worldwide may be living with HIV, meaning that they are HIV positive.

“One percent, or more, is considered an epidemic at the national level,” she noted.

As UN employees and families of UN employees, we all have a right to accurate information about HIV and AIDS, including information on how to avoid HIV infection and information on testing for HIV she said.

According to her, they are working to create a workplace environment free from stigma and discrimination and UN System in The Gambia is no exception.

She said for those who are infected with HIV, they are entitled to treatment that can help them live with the disease.

The local UN boss stressed that regardless of their HIV status, they are entitled, as employees of the UN system, to be informed of UN System workplace policies on HIV/AIDS.

“The United Nations is committed to workplace rights for all persons, regardless of their HIV status,” she said.

She added that HIV infection or AIDS is not considered a basis for terminating one’s employment.

The UN believes that staff members with HIV/AIDS should enjoy the same health and social protection as other UN employees, she said.

Madam Marrato also stated that significant progress has been made in HIV workplace programmes for staff and dependents with the development of numerous advocacy materials on prevention, post exposure prophylaxix, information on UN Cares, among others.

She further used the opportunity to thank the members of the Joint Team on AIDS for organizing the event and expressed hope that in 2014 more workplace programmes on different thematic areas will be organised for the benefit of their staff and families.