‘HIV/Aids threat spells losses for global economy’

Business losses are predicted at 46 percent from 2005 compared to 37 percent as at 2004. “Future concern is rising about the expected impact of HIV and Aids on firms’ operations over the next five years,” reads in part the World Economic Forum (WEF) Report 2006 titled: Business and HIV/Aids: A Healthier Partnership? The report provides business leaders, NGOs and policymakers with a tool to benchmark country-level business leader opinions as well as data-driven recommendations to guide future action. It is a global review of business perceptions and response to the epidemic. The report follows closely on the heels of the 36th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, from January 25- 29 with the theme “The Creative Imperative”. Tuberculosis, HIV and Aids and malaria were key focus areas of the public and private programmes. The WEF report covers the opinions of 10 993 business executives in 117 countries during the first five months of 2005. It states that only 9 percent of firms have conducted a quantitative HIV and Aids risk assessment. The report states that the majority of firms where national HIV prevalence exceeds 1 in 5 have formal HIV and Aids policies (58 percent). “Where prevalence drops below 1 in 5, very few firms have a policy (20 percent) and these are likely to be informal,” reads the report. The report also spells out that policies addressing the issues of discrimination in promotion, pay or benefits based on HIV status are rare (18 percent). It recommends that countries should unveil new research into the triggers for US-based business involvement to tackle HIV and Aids. In a study on Uganda done on the impact of HIV and Aids on productivity and labour costs in two Ugandan corporations in 2004, indicates companies are losing employees to HIV and Aids. The study reveals that although the nationwide HIV infection rate, as measured by antenatal survey, has been falling, Uganda employers still incur a significant cost from the disease. ‘

March 2006
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