HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy to create safe spaces for everyone
The National AIDS Commission, The Ministry of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour, and Local Government, and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have collaborated to bring forward the HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy. The premise is a simple one: to create safe spaces and opportunities, end discrimination and stigma, and provide support to those living with HIV and AIDS. A closing ceremony for a training in this regard ended yesterday in Belize City. Minister responsible for Labour, Oscar Requena spoke at the event.
Hon. Oscar Requena, Minister of Labour: “So when we think about that we have to find a way to be able to support them because really that is what they need. They need love, they need compassion, they need support to be able to deal with this situation. And that is why as stakeholders, all of us are stakeholders, and that is why it is important that we have the necessary training so that we can go out there and promote the rights and equality for all Belizeans and for people across the world who are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. So I want to congratulate you because you have done a great job and I am certain that these representatives who are out there representing your companies you are going to go out there and you’re going to work with your employee. You’re going to support them, you’re going to put in place policies and programs that are going to support them so that at the end of the day we afford the right to social justice, the right to decent work for all Belizeans.”
The commission, the ministry and several companies and organisations signed a memorandum of understanding, which commits full participation in several things including more capacity development training in workplaces, support to develop a finalised HIV and AIDS workplace policy and support testing initiatives at the workplace. The commission’s executive director, Enrique Romero discussed the importance of this.
Enrique Romero, Director, National AIDS Commission: “The National AIDS Commission, which is accountable directly to the Office of the Prime Minister, is mandated to respond to HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in Belize and as I mentioned earlier this response cannot only be a biomedical response, cannot only be on medications, it has to be a multipronged, a multifaceted approach which will also include prevention, care and treatment but critically important is the social protection component and I was very excited. We started 2023 with a lot of work at the National AIDS Commission. Just a few weeks ago I was part of a virtual session with a consultant through the Office of the Prime Minister’s Economic Development Council and we were looking at a social protection policy which is excellent. So this HIV and AIDS workplace social protection component is in line with the Government of Belize’s action plan or plan of action in moving forward so very excited about that as well.”
The MOU also commits signatories to participate in HIV and AIDS advocacy programs and to strengthen a support network for workers and their families affected by HIV.