In a drive to get Africa one step closer to zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination, global agri business Olam, along with NGO partners such as GIZ, EngenderHealth and Action Health Incorporated, has mobilised its supply chain network this month to get vital education and healthcare support to nearly a quarter of a million rural Africans in support of the UN’s World AIDS Day ‘Getting to Zero‘ (1st December 2012).
Operating in 24 African countries, Olam works with 3.4 million small scale farmers, as well as their communities, sourcing and processing products such as cocoa, cashew, cotton and rice. Recognising the extensive logistical and platform benefits that it can provide for disseminating HIV/AIDS education and advice, Olam is supporting ten long-term healthcare programmes currently in development in Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Tanzania, Gabon, Congo, Ghana and Cameroon. These encompass comprehensive HIV interventions for employees, farmers and community members. In addition, 26 HIV/AIDS events were held this year to raise awareness on prevention, treatment, voluntary testing and counselling. To deliver the 2012 strategy, the financial commitment to this vital challenge by Olam and its partners was $468,000. This is the fifth year of major support for HIV/AIDS by the business.
2012 initiatives include:
Tanzania- impacting the lives of women
As well as supporting peer educators to raise awareness of HIV prevention, care and treatment, Olam is partnering with GIZ and EngenderHealth to meet the complex healthcare needs associated with HIV/AIDS by educating the 3,500 women workers employed in the Mtwara cashew factory.
“The head of our delegation found particularly commendable the commitment of Olam management to the health of its work force. I would like to express our special appreciation for Olam’s efforts to implement its workplace program. Olam is not only providing information to its workers on health promotion… but also enabling them to access primary health care services by enrolling all workers in the Community Health Fund.” Inge Baumgarten, Head of the Tanzanian German Program to Support Health, German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), Tanzania
Côte d’Ivoire – health caravan
In the cotton growing areas of Côte d’Ivoire, efforts include voluntary testing and counselling, free medical consultation by qualified medical professionals, and awareness raising on prevention and treatment. Education for other major diseases impacting the villages such as malaria, diarrhoea, typhoid and pneumonia is also offered. The project will reach 2,800 beneficiaries in eight rural areas of northern Côte d’Ivoire where Olam is present. Once a month, a health caravan will visit one of the operational areas.
Nigeria – targeting students in the fight against HIV and AIDS
To support Nigeria’s national effort to target key sub-populations including young people, Olam Nigeria, in collaboration with Action Health International and Living Hope, has established a community focused campaign to prevent new HIV infections among young people. The programme mobilises young people as community change agents for development in the Osun State, challenging them to put into action information on prevention and care to support the global effort of ‘Getting to Zero’.
“The benefits of the collaboration between Action Health Incorporated, Living Hope Care, Ore Agbe Ilesha Cocoa farmers and OLAM Nigeria to commemorate the World AIDS Day with the Irepodun High School students and the cocoa farmers cannot be over emphasised. The event was very successful as it contributed to the national response of reducing new HIV infections to zero.”
Ms. Temitope Ijiwole, Action Health Incorporated
MD Ramesh, Regional Head of East and Southern Africa adds: “Olam doesn’t just work with 3.4 small scale million farmers across Africa, we depend on them. So as a responsible corporate citizen in the sensitive agricultural sector of Africa, we believe in supporting healthcare initiatives as much as we can.
“Given our goal of developing relationships that unlock mutual value for the communities with whom we work, we are selectively but exhaustively partnering with African governments in providing aid and support to fight this deadly virus.”