The Automotive Industry Development Centre Eastern Cape (AIDC EC) is at the core of health and wellness of farm workers in the province. It spearheads the HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) Relaunch in the agriculture sector under the coordination of the Eastern Cape AIDS Council (ECAC). “We plan to offer HCT to 20.000 farm workers in the area,” says Vuyisa Dayile. ECAC Chair of Secretariat. “This will contribute to testing 1.3 million people in the Eastern Cape for HIV.”
Last week the AIDC EC launched the first Wellness Day of the season in partnership with Habata Boerdery. At the workplace, more than 160 farm workers in Addo were provided with a health assessment including HCT, blood pressure and blood sugar tests, family planning as well as TB testing and STI screening. Services were provided by the Department of Health and Ukhamba Projects.
The AIDC EC suggests that 20% of employees in the agriculture sector of the Sundays River Valley are HIV positive. “The agriculture sector invests in the wellbeing in their workers, because it is an economic necessity,” explains AIDC EC Wellness Department Manager Arnelle Heynes. “Providing access to health services in the workplace allows the company to maintain a productive, healthy and resilient workforce.” Wellness Days reduce the financial strain on businesses due to loss of productivity caused by ill health of qualified staff.
As part of a comprehensive on-site Wellness Programme, the Wellness Day not only mobilises people to be tested, but also facilitates on-site education and support around HIV and other conditions such as substance abuse and TB for the local workers and managers. This is in an effort to eradicate the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS and upscale access to health services.
The AIDC EC has facilitated tailored workplace interventions since 2009 in response to the needs identified in business through intense research into, among other things, the stigma related to HIV and AIDS in rural workplaces.