Statistics show that, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than 22 of the 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS. South Africa is the country with the largest number of HIV-infected people in the world (5,7 million plus) with more than 90% of infections affecting the economically active.
These statistics were having an adverse impact on South Africa’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which employ significant numbers and contribute about 40% to the GDP. As such German car Manufacture Mercedes Benz conceptualized and implemented the Siyakhana project which means building together. Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) has expanded its globally acknowledged best-practice workplace program to provide HIV/AIDS program support to SMEs and the broader community.
The Siyakhana Project is designed to simultaneously tackle HIV/AIDS at the workplace, in communities, and at the primary healthcare level to ensure a holistic response. The project has achieved tremendous results thus far which include:
- Implementation of comprehensive HIV/AIDS policies and programs in 55 SMEs.
- 595 managers trained on HIV/AIDS in the workplace.
- 164 peer educators trained.
- 85 nurses trained on HIV/AIDS testing and treatment.
- 55 successful workplace HIV voluntary counseling and testing campaigns.
- 9,013 employees trained and counseled.
- 6,980 employees voluntarily testing for HIV.
- Establishment of, and ongoing training support to, a private physician network to manage HIV/AIDS care for SME employees and families.
The program is the brainchild of Dr. Hansgeorg Niefer who informed our news agency that one of his proudest achievements during his tenure in South Africa has been the group’s success in the battle against HIV and AIDS, and the opportunity to provide advocacy and support programmes for SMEs, suppliers and retailers alike, as well as assisting communities impacted by HIV and AIDS.
Dr Niefer now operates in the company’s Berlin plant as a engineer and was in charge of the HIV/AIDS program during the years 2002 to 2013.