CMST rolls out HIV/AIDS workplace policy

Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) on Saturday launched an HIV/AIDS workplace policy to guide the trust in impact mitigation of the pandemic for the future.

Speaking during the launch at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe, CMST Board Chairperson, Evelyn Itimu, said the workplace policy would help fight HIV and AIDS in the work place and that it would curb new infections within the trust.

“This workplace policy will help prevent further HIV infections and it will promote positive living while encouraging supportive mechanism among the trust’s employees living with HIV and AIDS,” said Itimu.

She said the best thing about the workplace policy was that its establishment had been inclusive at all levels at the trust.

The Board Chairperson, however, said the challenge remained translating the policy into action hence; she called on the trust’s employees and corporate partners to support the initiative morally, materially and financially.

“The government of Malawi through National AIDS Commission (NAC) is calling for concerted efforts by various organizations and companies to develop policies and programmes on HIV and AIDS to mitigate its impacts that is why we also thought of formulating our on policy for our workers and their families,”Itimu explained.

She further said the CMST acknowledges HIV and AIDS within its conditions of service as one way of supporting national efforts to reduce the spread of the infection and minimize the impact of the pandemic.

Also present at the launch was Chief Executive Officer for CMST, Feston Kaupa who said the HIV and Aids pandemic challenges every workplace with such adverse effects as prolonged employee illnesses, absenteeism or loss of skills through death.

He said most of the challenges haunt the company’s productivity and workplace morale, for institutions where the response to such challenges has not been well planned.

He added that the work environment is far from conducive and some unfair and discriminatory practices against People Living with HIV (PLHIV) get perpetuated through practices such as pre-employment HIV testing, dismissals for being positive and denial of employee benefits and employment opportunities such as training.

“At CMST we fully understand that HIV and Aids can be managed, and that staff or their dependents living with HIV can be helped to live a productive life,” said Kaupa.

The event was spiced up drama from the National Association for People Living with HIV in Malawi (NAPHAM), and very touching testimonies from, Miriam Nyoni and David Kamkwamba, who testified to have positively lived with the virus since early 90’s.

Nyoni and Kamkwamba, urged those who were not infected not to catch the virus and that those who were infected should keep the virus under control by adhering to good living practices.

The workers have also organized themselves into voluntary peer-educators and during the launch of the workplace policy CMST presented certificates to 12 Peer Educators.

Source: Malawi News Agency