Botswana Feels Brunt of HIV/AIDS Apathy
December 31, 2003
A recent report by the Norwegian aid agency Fafo and the Botswana National Productivity Centre said South African multinational companies are dragging their heels about implementing HIV/AIDS policies in their Botswana subsidiaries. The study surveyed 100 businesses and found that South African operations were more likely to have dedicated HIV/AIDS budgets, education and training programs than their Botswana subsidiaries to the north.
"[South African] provision of voluntary HIV/AIDS testing and counseling and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and opportunistic infections is by no means ideal, but it is much poorer in Botswana," the report stated. The authors suggested that the apparent double standard results from Botswana subsidiaries being run as franchises. "The crossborder franchise relationship [is] fraught with vagueness about who has control over decision making, most critically in the area of HIV/AIDS," they wrote.
The study also said Botswana subsidiaries of South African firms use casual labor hired from a daily pool much more extensively than Botswana-based firms. Such laborers have no medical insurance, sick leave, or HIV/AIDS benefits, which leaves them very vulnerable.
The report also noted differences in how South African and Botswana companies perceived the potential effect of HIV/AIDS on their businesses. Botswana companies and subsidiaries were concerned about the epidemic's effect on their future financial sustainability, while South African companies were concerned about the direct costs of HIV/AIDS and its effect on productivity.
"There is a long way to go before any of the companies we studied approach compliance with the South African Development Community code on HIV/AIDS and employment, and by extension the various codes that apply to them in both countries," the study said.
12.29.03; Business Day
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.