Diamond Company Takes Action To Curb HIV/AIDS

Gaborone- Botswana (PANA) -- Botswana's main diamond mining company has announced that firms wishing to do business with it must support its health policy on combating the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Debswana Company has realised that running HIV/AIDS programmes on its own without the cooperation of partner companies was counterproductive, its communications manager Jacob Sesinyi said.
He explained that achieving the company's target would be difficult if it tried to protect its own employees and left out those they interact with.
"We decided to do this because we felt it will go a long way in sustaining our programmes in combating AIDS at the mines, because we believe that this should be a partnership between us and the companies we are doing business with," said Sesinyi.
"Debswana has fully fledged AIDS co-ordinating offices at all our operations and we are saying they should take advantage of these.
" Under a new arrangement, Debswana wants the affected companies to show commitment by addressing HIV/AIDS within their workforce.
The companies will be responsible for providing a safe working environment, both physically and mentally, through empowering employees with knowledge to avoid risks and protect themselves from being infected with HIV.
They should demonstrate that they have a workplace policy and programme on HIV/AIDS both at their premises and in operations at Debswana sites.
These include a statement on non-discrimination based on a person's HIV status, confidentiality and privacy, ability to work and criteria for ill-health retirement.
Companies must have workplace education programmes which adequately cover the basic facts about HIV/AIDS.
Sesinyi said partner companies that do not conform to these requirements would not be considered for business with Debswana.
Debswana is a 50-50 joint venture between the international gemstone giant De Beers and the Botswana government.
It operates three mines at Orapa, Letlhakane and Jwaneng.
The company's production has made Botswana the world's leading producer of the gemstone by value.
Debswana offers free anti-retroviral treatment and support to its employees living with HIV/AIDS.

05 june 2001 19:30:00

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