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PRESS RELEASE

A CUT ABOVE THE REST:
HOW AN NPO, FOUNDED BY SOUTH AFRICA’S UNION MOVEMENT,
BECAME AN UNLIKELY CHAMPION FOR MEDICAL MALE CIRCUMCISION

On the occasion of the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) to be hosted in July in Durban, it is an opportune time to reflect on a little known champion of the fight against HIV, AIDS and TB – the SACTWU Worker Health Programme (SWHP).

South Africa’s organised labour movement mobilised relatively early on to attend to the scourge of HIV, AIDS as well as TB in the workplace. One such programme launched was the SACTWU Worker Health Programme. Founded in 1998, the programme initially focused on helping the Union to manage the effects of the disease on its membership. In 2003, SWHP registered as an NPO and broadened its reach, delivering services on a national basis to other communities affected by the HIV, AIDS and TB pandemics. For the past 18 years, the SACTWU Worker Health Programme has been part of the very fabric of many people’s lives in South Africa, delivering much needed and, in fact, life-changing health services to over 1.2 million people directly, and many more indirectly.

Unions have a rich history of promoting the human rights, dignity and wellbeing of workers. In South Africa, they’ve played a leading role in the anti-apartheid liberation movement – a contribution which has earned them a powerful voice in civil society. Unions have also assumed a key position in the fight against HIV, AIDS and TB, ensuring that the interests of workers from under-privileged communities are represented. These communities often tend to lack the best access to health, social services and information, with the result that the resource deficit is a major factor affecting the rate of spread and impact of these diseases. 

 

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South Africa’s organised labour movement mobilised relatively early to attend to the scourge of HIV, AIDS as well as tuberculosis (TB) in the workplace. One such programme launched was the SACTWU Worker Health Programme (SWHP). For the past 18 years the SWHP has been part of the very fabric of many people’s lives in South Africa, delivering much-needed and in fact life-changing health services.

The 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) to be hosted in July in Durban is an opportune time to reflect on the journey that SWHP has travelled in implementing evidence-based prevention and treatment interventions in the workplace and beyond.

The value of partnerships
In line with the National Strategic Plan as it pertains to AIDS, TB and STIs, as the SWHP we have, over the years, nurtured strategic partnerships with various stakeholders including national, provincial and district level government departments, health policy makers locally and abroad, agencies of the United Nations, national public health institutes like the United States Government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), academic institutions, as well as other NPOs and donors.

Effective community mobilisation has converted a call to action into uptake of services. By working with others SWHP has grown from humble beginnings into an organisation that can impact individual lives nationally on a massive scale; delivering much-needed health services to over 1.2 million people directly and many more indirectly. Our formal collaboration with key non-profits in South Africa and abroad has enabled improved care and more efficient monitoring of activities. Collaboration also ensures the avoidance of overlap and duplication of services; resources are maximised and efficiently utilised. 

 

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