Vice President Aliu Mahama yesterday expressed dissatisfaction about the negative impact of HIV/AIDS on productivity and profitability of corporate organisations and called for effective workplace policies and interventions to address the complex ramifications of the pandemic.
He said the impact of HIV/AIDS on the labour force was hitting hard on both the public and private sectors and eroding productivity at the time when developing countries needed to become more competitive to cope with the challenges of globalisation.
Vice President Alhaji Mahama, who is also the Chairman of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), made the call when he inaugurated Ghana Business Coalition against HIV/AIDS in Accra.
The Vice President said the pandemic remained relentless in infecting more than one-third of the adult population and concentrated on people within the productive ages of 15 years and 59 years.
He said the demands of managing HIV/AIDs six years ago, prompted the Government to adopt a multi-sectoral approach to address the developmental challenges of the pandemic, which led to the designing of a National Strategic Framework in 2001 with the support of international financial support. He called for social and attitudinal change to facilitate the enforcement of laws against stigma and discrimination.
Vice President Alhaji Mahama noted that the Coalition could provide a unified and coherent front for advocacy as well as serve as a focal point to facilitate information sharing and best practices to curb the pandemic.
"The Coalition should, therefore, encourage and enhance private sector response through the development of workplace HIV/AIDS products and services."
Mr Charles Cofie, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Uniliver Ghana, who is the interim Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Coalition, said 40 per cent of Ghana's productive labour was in the private sector hence the need for the co-ordinating body to nip the pandemic in the bud.
He said most people in the Small and Medium Enterprises had no understanding about the impact of the pandemic on their workplace. Mr Cofie said in Malawi, where he worked as a CEO for Unilever in 2002, every employee of the Company lost a family member through HIV/AIDS while a worker died almost every month.
Professor Sakyi Awuku Amoa, Director-General of the GAC, said HIV/AIDS was now a development and social issue that should be tackled holistically to protect the human resource of the country.
Representatives from the United Nations, World Bank, the Private Sector Foundation (PEF) and CEOs of the banks and organised labour read goodwill messages that centred on the need for collaboration to stem the pandemic.
In line with the Ghana National Strategic Framework, the Coalition is expected to mainstream the development of workplace policies and programmes to address the needs of employees and their families and to reduce the risk of new infections.
Members of the Coalition include representatives from the PEF, Ghana Employers Association, Ghana Social Marketing Foundation, State Enterprises Commission, Ghana Aids Commission (GAC), Ghana Chamber of Mines, Ghana Trade Union Congress, Association of Ghana Industries, Ghana Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Bankers.