By Michael Gwarisa
THE Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) says it will soon be launching an HIV and Wellness Standard in a move to boost the quality of HIV and wellness policies within organizations.
In an Interview with HealthTimes, SAZ Director General, Dr Eve Gadzikwa said they had already launched nine standards on traditional medicines and called on companies to ensure they adopt the forthcoming HIV and Wellness standard so as to improve working conditions for their workforce.
““Firstly I wish to advise you that this standard is still undergoing development and it’s at a stage where the technical committee is going through the motions to try and finalise the standard. As for the process of coming up with a standard, they are many different ways of coming up with a standard, its either you develop a standard from scratch or you can adopt a standard that is already existing or you can actually take some excerpts of existing standard and incorporate it into the work that you are doing.
“In the case of Zimbabwe, we have done our research and discovered that South Africa already have an HIV and Wellness Standard, so the technical committee looked at the South African Standard with a view of trying to see whether it was possible to adopt it or it was necessary for us to review certain excerpts of the standard. So this is where we are now, we have adopted certain parts of the South African standards but of course there are some issues we need to clarify especially relating to Intellectual Property (IP). This is quite normal for the adoption of a standard, especially when you are adopting an international standard or even a standard from the region,” said Dr Gadzikwa.
She added that they were not yet finished with the exercise as they were still working on clarifying the IP issues but emphasised that this was good instrument and companies should embrace it with both hands.
“At the end of the day, this standard is going to be useful in the sense that it is going to assist a lot of companies which are looking at introducing HIV and Wellness programs because it does create a guidance which can support any company that implements HIV and wellness programs. The standard is also very useful in the sense that it is complimentary to the occupational health and safety standard.
“There are ISO 18001, and also the new revised standard the ISO 45001 the one i spoke about earlier on in my presentation. It also compliments anyone who is already implementing a quality management system, so all i can say about the HIV and Wellness standard is that it is still work in progress but it’s something very good for Zimbabwe because we are still going through a period of trying to deal with HIV issues. But as you know HIV is not the only problem that we have in terms of wellness so this standard is supposed to be a holistic way of addressing issues related to wellness in the workplace and outside the workplace but especially in the workplace because companies are battling with issues of absenteeism and productivity.”
The HIV and Wellness Management Standard once developed should position HIV and wellness management as an asset management response, providing a platform for structured action and a code of good practice for management. This should improve access to services for employees and their families.
Most Zimbabwe companies do not have HIV and Wellness programs for their employees and as a result, many have lost their lives due to non communicable diseases and HIV related ailments and productivity has been highly compromised.
Speaking during the official launch of the NAC HIV/Cancer Golf Tournament recently, Sports Minister Makhosini Hlongwane implored organisations to come up with HIV and Wellness initiatives for their employees.
“Engaging in physical sports promotes fitness, health and wellness among all people that can do so. As you will all be aware, lack of physical activity breeds various kinds of ailments that we can address by engaging in physical sports. Obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and others can either be prevented or controlled by engaging in sports. Those who engage in sports are less likely to suffer from such ailments and others as they grow into adulthood.
“In addition to physical health, sports play a very vital role in building friendships, instilling discipline and developing a creative and intelligent mind. These gains can be anyone’s given their commitment to sports. Sadly most people now lead lifestyles that promote eating of processed “junk” food with fewer or no exercises. The situation is worsened by the sedentary jobs that we do,” said Minister Hlongwane.