Colleen Khumalo, SWHP CEO: “To achieve our goals, we need to collaborate and pool resources on every front – medical, social and psychological to save our people. As SWHP, we hope to continue to secure the investment and support we need to expand our work across many more communities.”
SWHP exists to put the power of wellbeing within the reach of previously disadvantaged communities. SWHP has aligned its work with South Africa’s National Strategic Plan for HIV, STIs and TB (NSP), along with the UNAIDS ’90 90 90’ strategy aimed at bringing about an HIV-free generation. SWHP was able to bring the union movement’s significant influence to bear in the fight against these chronic diseases, mobilising their relationships with employers, employees, the government and communities to help negotiate workplace agreements and policies that set the standard for the workplace response to HIV, AIDS and TB.
SWHP further initiated a series of workplace programmes focusing on education and training, counselling and testing, voluntary medical male circumcision as well as support and treatment for HIV, AIDS and TB.
These programmes apply to both male and female employees across many industries, including clothing and textile factory workers, jail wardens, school teachers, their families, and their communities.
Through years of interacting with a 70% female workforce we have become intimately acquainted with the unique challenges faced by women, which disempower them and make them particularly vulnerable to HIV infection. SWHP’s education includes messaging around gender-based violence, with widespread condom distribution, comprehensive health screening including HIV counselling and testing, free voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) and skills development for young girls.
In the first year 48 159 medical male circumcisions were performed, with the number climbing steadily year on year as the formal education process and funding efforts bore fruit. We built trust, and by 2016 SWHP has become a leading service provider of VMMC, with a total of 344 621 procedures performed – close to a quarter of total procedures linked to the broader Government programme.