Implementation Process for Supporting Workplace HIV Prevention Interventions

Needs Assessment of Malawian Organizations

In order to fully understand the context for implementing workplace-based social and behavior change HIV prevention interventions among employers in Malawi, BRIDGE II undertook two needs assessments of companies in BRIDGE II implementation districts that employed large numbers of people. The first was conducted with Conforzi, Makwasa, Mini-mini and Chitakale Tea Estates, African Parks Majete and Illovo Sugar Limited. The second was conducted with BAKHRESA Grain and Milling Company, Blantyre Water Board, Rabs Processors and the Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi. In order to garner their participation, BRIDGE II reached out to these companies and advocated for their involvement in the needs assessments. After confirming their intention to participate, questionnaires were sent to the Human Resources Managers or HIV Coordinators at each company to gather the needed information. While most companies returned completed questionnaires, three did not respond despite stating they would participate.

The needs assessment process entailed identifying the number of employees at each company and assessing the impact HIV had on the company overall in areas such as increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, and increased company costs related to HIV and AIDS. BRIDGE II also examined: previous and ongoing HIV prevention interventions implemented by the government (that companies could participate in) and by the companies themselves, the level of resources available for allocation to HIV prevention in the workplace; the availability of a committee to lead workplace HIV prevention efforts; and, the willingness of company management to work with BRIDGE II in supporting the Workplace HIV Prevention Program. Information on whether the companies had HIV workplace policies was also collected.

Following the completion of the needs assessments, the participating companies were triaged into the following categories:

  • Companies that had a workplace HIV prevention program but needed it to be strengthened.
  • Companies that did not have a program but were interested in developing one.

All companies except for African Parks Majete and Chitakale Tea Plantations had pre-existing HIV prevention interventions. However, the quality of these programs varied dramatically from company to company; several were run with few resources and had little to no impact, and others were new programs. Additionally, it was found that all of the companies except for African Parks Majete had HIV workplace policies, but that in general these policies were not widely shared with employees.

Key Partner Identification

Based on the results of the needs assessment, the BRIDGE II team identified key partners with whom they would work. These companies included Eastern Produce, Makwasa, Minimini, Conforz, and Chitakale Tea Estates; Illovo Sugar Malawi Ltd. and African Parks Majete Game Reserve. In the second year of this activity, Bakhresa Grain and Milling and the Blantyre Water Board and Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi were added as participating employers. Additionally, Eastern Produce Tea Estates, which began participating in only 2 of its 18 estates, scaled up their interventions to 16 out of 18 estates.

Supporting the Establishment of Workplace HIV Prevention Interventions

BRIDGE II held a series of joint meetings with the participating companies to discuss and provide guidance on workplace HIV interventions and promote inter-company learning. National AIDS Commission statistics indicated high HIV prevalence rates among male and female workers (19.9% and 17.5% respectively) (1); BRIDGE II used this information to advocate with the participating companies to invest in and support the strengthening of their workplace HIV prevention interventions. Companies were also encouraged to effectively disseminate their HIV and AIDS workplace policies to their employees if such policies were already in place. In the meetings, the Malawi Business Coalition Against AIDS shared the International Labour Organization Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work (2) with company managers as a guideline for how HIV and AIDS should be handled in the workplace, and stressed that workplace HIV prevention interventions should be grounded in the guidelines laid out in the Code of Practice.

BRIDGE II worked to ensure that all workplace HIV prevention programs in participating companies met the minimum requirements set by the Code of Practice. To reach employees directly, BRIDGE II trained peer educators within each company to use BRIDGE II’s Transformative Tools and provided them with the Journey of Hope, African Transformation, and Tasankha Toolkits to educate their peers about HIV prevention. To further aid in behavior change processes, BRIDGE II also provided companies with Tasankha­-branded HIV prevention posters and projectors in order to view the videos included in the African Transformation Toolkit.

(2) International Labour Organization Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work can be accessed at the following hyperlink: http://www.ilo.org/aids/Publications/WCMS_113783/lang--en/index.htm