25 September 2007

Nigeria: Minister Warns Against Stigma On HIV/Aids in Workplace

Abuja — Minister of Labour, Dr. Hassan Mohammed Lawal, has kicked against the stigmatisation of people living with HIV/Aids in workplaces, lamenting that such action was "illegal and against fundamental principles and right at work".

Dr. Hassan who was speaking at the British American Tobacco Africa and Middle East HIV/AIDS conference held at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, yesterday said employers of labour must stop discriminating against workers who are HIV positive and urged them to increase their annual budget in the area of HIV/Aids prevention campaigns within the workforce.

The minister who described workforce as a treasure to any nation, stressed the need to protect human capital which is a vital factor of production, against every danger, including the threat of HIV/Aids. He commended the British American Tobacco company for their effort in ensuring a HIV/Aids-free workforce adding that "an HIV/Aids -free workforce, is an in-road to a viable economy".

According to Dr. Lawal "this will boost President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's vision of making Nigeria one of the foremost world economies by 2020".

His words: Let me also use this opportunity to call on all employers of labour to stop stigmatising and discriminating against workers who are HIV positive. This is because a worker who is HIV positive is still very productive. It is illegal and against fundamental principles and rights at work".

The minister also called on other private sector companies to emulate British American Tobacco company by implementing the national workforce policy on HIV/Aids which, according to him, is the framework for workplace response to pandemic in the country.

Speaking earlier, the regional human resource director of BAT (Africa and Middle East) Mr. Kervel du Toit, said the company has gone a long way in the campaign against the dreaded disease called HIV/Aids in the region.

He said the campaign against the disease in workplace had increased the productivity of the company and the employee's wellness at workplace.

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