Study Shows Benefits of HIV Work Place Programmes Outweigh Costs
HIV workplace programmes can save companies money, valuable skills
and knowledge among its labour force and improve the health and
security of communities at large, according to a new study.
Carried out by Global Development Alliance (GDA) partner, CHAMP,
along with the National AIDS Council of Zambia and IOM, the study,
which does a cost-benefit analysis of some of Zambia's largest
private sector companies, also recommends that companies treat HIV
as a strategic issue that requires planning.
target="_blank" title=""> "background-color: rgb(153, 204, 255);">Cost Benefit Analysis of
HIV Workplace Programmes in Zambia
With a national HIV prevalence of about 17 per cent –
compounded by stigma and misconceptions – the Zambian
workplace offers a good opportunity to access much-needed
prevention and treatment programmes, especially for migrant workers
who are vulnerable to the disease due to their mobility.
Some of Zambia's largest employers have been implementing HIV
workplace programmes to mitigate the impact of the disease on
employees. In the past, these programmes have been justified on the
basis that they are the “right thing to do” rather than
a true analysis of the costs and benefits involved.
Data was collected from seven of the biggest companies in Zambia
– four in the mining sector and three in the agricultural
sector. All the companies are members of the GDA – a
public-private partnership initiated and co-funded by the United
States Agency for International Development (USAID) and
administered by a local NGO, CHAMP (Comprehensive HIV/AIDS
The study calculated the costs of running the HIV programmes
(including healthcare, peer education, counselling and testing and
staff time spent on the programme) against the costs of HIV and
AIDS to the company (including employee turnover, training new
staff, loss of productivity, absenteeism and funeral costs).
It found that HIV and AIDS have an enormous impact on all
companies big and small, low-skilled and high-skilled, and that
benefits outweigh costs, human and financial, by implementing a
range of HIV programmes among staff including prevention and
treatment. The largest company, for example, saved nearly USD
500,000 in what would have been lost productivity from sick
It was also clear that the length of time the programme had been
running for also mattered as did the size of the company with
larger companies benefitting most.
The research also highlighted the high cost of symptomatic
treatment for staff who are HIV positive but undiagnosed, estimated
to be about seven times that of providing healthcare, including
antiretroviral treatment, to those who know their status.
Prevention is vital in the fight against HIV and the study found
that knowledge and prevention skills from the workplace programmes
were spreading to the surrounding communities with access to
information, condoms, and in some cases, treatment.
Temporary or seasonal workers were included in the study in four
sites. Despite the limited inclusion of this group, the study found
that including temporary workers in the HIV workplace programmes
for provides a modest benefit to companies, with average savings of
$32 per seasonal employee in three out of the four companies
The study, co-funded by CHAMP, IOM, the Zambian National AIDS
Council and USAID, also argued that the belief among companies that
a plentiful and cheap supply of labour meant there was no need for
HIV programming for temporary workers was short-sighted and would
ultimately prove to be extremely costly for their business
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