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Tanzania Media Houses Launch HIV/AIDS Workplace Policies

November 18, 2008

Eighteen Tanzanian media houses on Sunday launched HIV/AIDS workplace policies in response to news from the Tanzania Health Index Survey that the country could lose 9% of its most economically productive population to the disease by 2020, the Tanzania Daily News reports. According to Fatima Mrisho, chair of the Tanzania Commission for AIDS, the policies will focus on prevention, treatment, care, support, and the reduction of stigma and discrimination.

Halima Shariff, country director for USAID's Health Policy Initiative, said that her organization over the past year has collaborated with the AIDS Business Coalition of Tanzania and the Media Owners Association of Tanzania to launch the workplace policies. Shariff added that an assessment of media houses in 2006 -- which was conducted in collaboration with the Association of Journalists Against HIV/AIDS in Tanzania -- "revealed that despite their commendable role in promoting HIV/AIDS education and advocacy, media houses lacked defined HIV/AIDS workplace programs and policies." Following the assessment -- which also found "gaps" such as low HIV/AIDS knowledge and risky behaviors and practices -- HPI distributed the findings to media houses and other stakeholders, according to Shariff.

Following the 2006 assessment, Shariff said that MOAT executives committed to "join forces in ensuring that media houses instituted workplace policies and/or programs." Meetings were held among senior media managers to garner support and determine methods of engaging media houses, according to Shariff. MOAT Executive Secretary Henry Muhanika noted that the new policies will create awareness; help fight stigma; teach about HIV/AIDS treatment; encourage voluntary counseling and testing; and teach how to maintain confidentiality. ABCT CEO Richard Kasesera said, "We need to sensitize the media and since media are on the forefront of communication, once we sensitize them, we can also educate the nation" (Tanzania Daily News, 11/16).

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