|The Business Response to HIV/AIDS: Innovation & Partnership (UNAIDS, 1997, 60 p.)|
|Examples of Company Actions on HIV/AIDS|
A. THE ORGANISATION
The Confederation of Indian Industry (Cll) is the national organisation representing Indian business.. Its 3,500 members represent all sectors of Indian industry. The organisation maintains four regional offices and 24 state offices, plus nine offices overseas, and has a professional staff of nearly 500 people (220 in Delhi). Several of India's leading industrialists serve on the Cll board.
Cll plays a leadership role for Indian business, making representation to government on macro-economic and regulatory matters, and formulating business policy on wider social issues such as education and family planning. It also provides a forum for its members to discuss key economic and social questions, and conducts research on relevant issues Cll campaigns among its members, and business generally, for greater corporate community involvement.
B. REASONS FOR ACTION ON HIV/AIDS
The first case of AIDS was reported in India in May 1986. A decade later, the Ministry of Health estimated that up to 1.3 million people might already be HIV-positive. Large firms with international contacts and extensive medical facilities, such as Tata Steel, reacted to the growing threat by introducing employee education programmes at the beginning of the 1990s. The industrial sector as a whole, however, needed to clarify policy, implement programmes and build partnerships with the community to confront the spread of the disease. Cll therefore took on the leadership role, seeking both to assist its members in protecting their workforce from the disease and to take part in the public debate on the issues.
C. EXAMPLE ACTIONS
Cll's National Committee on Health and Family Welfare was already working on general health issues as well as specialist areas such as family planning. The committee established a taskforce on HIV/AIDS, which collected information on:
· The development of the disease in India. The government's National AIDS Control Programme and WHO contributed information and advice, as did grassroots NGOs working with commercial sex workers and truckers on health issues.
· The experience of its own members. Initially, this was limited, and in some cases, members voiced scepticism about the urgency of HIV/AIDS as an issue when the country was facing so many other problems.
· The experience of business in other countries where the disease had a strong hold. A number of multinationals were helpful at this point, as were USAID and the British Council offices in India.
Cll's committee also sent representatives abroad to WHO, the International Labour Organisation and other international meetings on HIV/AIDS.
With the information gathered by the taskforce and the meeting representatives, Cll developed an "AIDS in the Workplace" policy and action package. Britain's United Distillers provided financial support, and leading Indian companies such as SIEL and Tata Steel gave their endorsement. As Cll stated "Since employees form the backbone of industry, their well-being is of prime concern to the industry. Cll, under its National Committee on Health & Family Welfare, initiated an exercise for the prevention, care and control of HIV/AIDS at the workplace. The objective being to mobilise industry to implement non discriminatory policies towards employees with HIV and AIDS and implement behaviour change programmes for prevention of STDs/HIV/AIDS. 1
1 "Corporate Initiatives in Health Care: Programme on Prevention and Care of HIV/AIDS" brochure, Confederation of India Industry.
The package contains model guidelines for dealing with employees with HIV/AIDS, educational material for managers and workers, an audiovisual presentation and two booklets in English, together with communications materials such as posters, flip charts for meetings, stickers and paycheque envelopes in English, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali and Tamil.
The initiative was launched at a national event in March 1996 and attracted significant publicity. It was then launched regionally, with nearly 40 orientation programmes for senior managers across different states.
D. RESULTS TO DATE
More than 100 companies have adopted the model guidelines contained in the "AIDS in the Workplace" package and begun to implement employee education programmes. Cll has been obtaining feedback from these companies with a view to revising and expanding the next generation of materials.
Cll is aware that it has only begun the work of implementing a workplace-based policy across the country. The early take-up of its work is by the largest firms; the many medium-sized and small businesses frequently suppliers to big companies have yet to engage in the debate. Cll is looking to large Indian firms and local affiliates of multinationals to take the lead in encouraging good practice among the other companies.
Contact: Senior Advisor - CCC
Confederation of Indian Industry
India Habitat Centre
4th Floor, Zone IV
New Delhi 110003
Tel: 91 11 469 1151
Fax: 91 11 464 5223