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International News
Nigerian Women's Ministry Develops HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy

December 19, 2007

The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development recently developed a policy that provides a framework for addressing HIV/AIDS in the workplace, Health Minister Hajiya Saudatu Usman Bungudu announced over the weekend, Nigeria's Daily Trust reports. She said the policy seeks to protect the rights of HIV-positive workers, as well as foster a safe and healthy work environment for employees.

According to Usman Bungudu, the policy will provide a framework for prevention, care and support for those living with the disease, adding that it will demonstrate zero tolerance of psychological abuse, stigma and discrimination of HIV-positive staff. "The issue of HIV/AIDS has been of great interest to the ministry, and we have committed so much resource into the National Response both humanly and materially," Usman Bungudu said, adding, "Since no drugs have yet been found for the cure of the virus, concerted efforts should be made by all and sundry to check the spread."

In addition, she said that employees' medical records should remain confidential. "Everybody who is in position to obtain any medical information on any individual should respect the confidentiality of such information," Usman Bungudu said. Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Yakubu Nuhu Giwa said the policy will provide information about HIV/AIDS, as well as sexual and reproductive health, to help develop an informed work force and ultimately reduce the spread of HIV.

Giwa added that HIV/AIDS "shall be treated as any other chronic illness in the workplace in terms of employee policies and benefits, including health and life insurance, disability benefits and leave of absence." He added, "Employees living with or affected by HIV infection and AIDS will be treated with compassion and understanding, as with employees with other chronic illnesses" (Shehu, Daily Trust, 12/17).

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