Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones??

Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, is urging all private sector organisations not already doing so, to join in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

He made the call recently, while speaking at the AIDS Foundation of Barbados’ Biennial Awards Ceremony and Cocktail Reception at the Sandy Lane Hotel. "I implore the entire private sector of Barbados to adopt policies and implement programmes to reduce HIV/AIDS-related stigma and to augment the national response through encouraging and facilitating testing for illness at work and in the community.

"Today there are 31 companies involved in providing this vital service to 11,000 workers. When I look at the statistics from the Barbados Economic and Social Report of 2008, I have to ask the obvious question, what about the other 121,100 workers? " Minister Jones lamented.

He advised those companies who have yet to become involved in the fight to follow the multi-faceted and comprehensive strategy used by the enterprises being honoured at the awards ceremony.

"First of all we need to establish strategic partnerships to ensure that no category of Barbadian is overlooked in the drive to halt the spread of the virus.?? I am comforted in the knowledge that the AIDS Foundation of Barbados is part of a network of shareholders that includes the National HIV/AIDS Commission, the Barbados Employers’ Confederation and the Barbados Workers’ Union…. The second element is that employers must be convinced that joining forces to protect workers is not charity.?? When one takes into consideration the cost of recruiting and training a productive worker, any expenditure on maintaining the health of this asset is a shrewd investment," the Education Minister pointed out.

Mr. Jones further recommended that employers give their employees access to education and training programmes on HIV/AIDS, as well as allow counselling and testing at work, as ways to heighten their awareness of the disease.?? Additionally, he stressed that every workplace should have a clearly articulated policy on HIV/AIDS and comprehensive workplace initiatives.

"The AIDS Foundation is highly qualified to help formulate such policies and translate them into effective educational training programmes," the Minister said.

Mr. Jones also lauded the AIDS Foundation for its work in battling the HIV/AIDS pandemic.??kmoore@barbados.gov.bb

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