Tanzania: Stigma, Discrimination Against HIV Victims Condemned
By Maureen Odunga
STIGMA and Discrimination remains a serious challenge in communities and workplaces, impeding efforts to reduce new HIV infections and adherence to treatment in the country.
Association of the Tanzania Employers (ATE) Executive Director Aggrey Mlimuka observed this during an ATE coordinated Human Resource Meeting in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
Mr Mlimuka cited the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 2014 report on stigma and discrimination, which shows that six percent of employees who disclosed their HIV status encountered the problem from their colleagues and superiors.
“I urge all employers to protect the rights of employees living with HIV/ AIDS as required by the Employment and Labour Relations Act, 2004,” observed the Director. He added that implementation of Workplace HIV/AIDS Programme is vital in reducing stigma and discrimination as well as reminding people to take precautions to remain free from the vice.
A Senior Officer in the Prime Minister’s Office Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled, Mr Ayubu Musa stressed on the need for public offices to implement Workplace HIV/AIDS Programme to get rid of stigma and discrimination.
“The programs and guidelines provide for how the ministries, institutions and organisations should deal with workers who are affected without discriminating them,” stressed Mr Musa, saying it is important that the programs are implemented to avoid stigma at workplaces.
He added that the government and the various stakeholders have done a great job to reduce the prevalence by educating people about the disease and supporting them to access Anti-retroviral drugs for their survival.
“Since the matter is crucial in the workforce, it is vital to come up with good strategies that will drive national development,” he noted.
The HIV/AIDS Coordinator at ILO, Ms Getrude Sima said every employee has a right to work free from any kind of harassment or discrimination regardless of their health status. “Being infected does not mean that one cannot be productive, what is needed is a healthy environment for them to work,” said Ms Sima.