MOL, ILO Conduct Massive Awareness on Revised HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy in Liberia
The Ministry of Labour (MOL), in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) Liberia’s office, has conducted a second round of massive dissemination and awareness raising campaign on the newly revised HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy for Liberia. The week-long campaign, conducted in the two highest burden areas and concession prone counties in Liberia – Nimba and Grand Cape Mount – began on Monday, June 12 and ended on Friday, June 16, 2023. The campaign was organized to raise awareness on the provisions of the revised Policy in seeking to curtail discrimination in the workplace and prevent the occurrence of the virus.
Speaking at separate occasions at the opening of the campaign in Ganta City, Nimba County and during a live radio talk show in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County, the ILO County Coordinator for Liberia, Mr. Salif Haji Massalay, speaking on behalf of the ILO Country Director for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liaison Office for ECOWAS, Dr. Vanessa L. Phala, said that the campaign is the second in a series of awareness campaigns that began in 2022 following the adoption of the newly revised HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy for Liberia. He said that the Policy primarily covers all workers and employers without distinctions and emphasized that the successful implementation of the Policy requires the concerted efforts of both employers and workers in the workplace.
The development of the Policy, Mr. Massalay said, is rooted in the ILO’s four fundamental mandates of the ILO which seeks to protect workers – protecting the rights of workers, ensuring and supporting decent work, providing social protection, and promoting social dialogue between employers and employees. The development of the Policy, according to Mr. Massalay, is equally guided by various ILO’s conventions, notable among which are Convention No 111, “Non-discrimination in Employment and Occupational at the Workplace”; Convention 150, “Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment”; Convention 155, “Occupational Health and Safety at the Workplace”; Convention 158, “Termination of Employment”; and the ILO Recommendation 200 concerning “HIV and AIDS and the World of Work”.
According to Mr. Massalay, no employer, whatever the condition, should discriminate against any employee or attempt to terminate an employee’s service at the workplace because of his or her HIV status. He emphasized that employers should ensure a conducive and enabling environment for all employees irrespective of their health status, noting that appropriate measures should be instituted to ensure that the workplace is conducive and normal for every employee.
Concluding, Mr. Massalay indicated that the goal of the policy is to give guidance to government, employers, and workers on how to go about changing behavior in the workplace. He thanked the Ministry of Labour through its Division of HIV and AIDS, the National AIDS Commission and all local and internationals partners for their many support during development of the Policy.
The newly revised HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy embodies five main objectives geared towards non-discrimination of workers infected and affected with HIV and AIDS and related opportunistic infections: a) to facilitate the establishment of workplace regulations, policies and program response to HIV and AIDS, b) to create an enabling environment for the provision of treatment, care, support and counseling, c) to build the capacity of workplace management and workers in handling HIV and AIDS and related opportunistic infections, d) to facilitate the review and enactment of appropriate laws and status to incorporate
HIV and AIDS, and e) to increase private sector, civil society organizations, faith-based organizations and organizations of people living with HIV engagement to fast track the National HIV and AIDS response.
These objectives can best be achieved through continual awareness and capacity building. Accordingly, the awareness campaign targeted and covered human resource managers and other workers of public and private organizations as well as health practitioners in the concession prone counties of Nimba and Grand Cape Mount. The campaign also brought together school administrators, teachers and their students on the prevention, treatment, care and non-discrimination of the people living with HIV and AIDS. A total of four hundred (400) workers, managers, teachers and students participated in the awareness campaign. At the close of the campaign, some twelve thousand eight hundred (12,800) pieces of condoms and three hundred (300) copies of the Policy were distributed. The intervention was undertaken within the framework of the Joint UN Programme