LABOUR MINISTRY INPLEMENTING HIV/AIDS POLICY

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Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour, Senator Arni Walters

The Ministry of Labour continues to be in the vanguard of the fight against HIV/AIDS stigmatisation and discrimination, with the department set to introduce a first-ever policy on HIV/AIDS within the public sector.

This was revealed earlier this week by Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour, Senator Arni Walters, as he addressed the opening of a consultation on HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination at the Accra Beach Hotel, Rockley, Christ Church.

He added that the policy, which will also focus on other life-threatening illnesses, will be buttressed by the implementation of a Code of Practice for the public sector.

“The Code of Practice is intended as a guide for Public Sector Managers in helping them to promote the development of a supportive, ethical and human rights work environment that protects the fundamental rights and freedoms of workers living with HIV and other life threatening illnesses,” he explained.

The Minister stressed that all ministries, departments and state agencies will be required to put mechanisms and processes in place to implement the Code efficiently and effectively.

According to Senator Walters, Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Departments, Chief Executive Officers and managers will be responsible for the maintenance of all personal data including medical information on employees.

He said that this also brought to the fore issues of confidentiality.

“Since the right to privacy must be protected, officers responsible for human resource management information systems and HIV/AIDS in particular should be trained in the principles and application of personal data collection.” The added that they should also “be fully aware of the legislative framework that governs data management”.

The Minister revealed that the policy will be reviewed by the Ministry of Labour in collaboration with the HIV/AIDS Core Group and the Social Partners every five years, to take into account any new medical and, or policy developments relating to HIV/AIDS and other life threatening illnesses.

Senator Walters also disclosed that the Chief Parliamentary Counsel is presently drafting Omnibus legislation aimed at protecting persons with HIV and disabilities “which will provide for effective administrative and civil remedies”.

askeete@barbados.gov.bb

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