Prioritizing sustainability from the start
Guyana Business Coalition
In 2004, when Guyana had one of the highest rates HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the Pan Caribbean Region, the Ministry of Health and Labor were faced with the reality that the most affected were in the economically active age group (age 15-49) – which represented 51% of the population.
To help support the government’s efforts, HDI brought together a small group of companies to determine how the private sector could potentially support the governments efforts so that their efforts could be scaled up and sustained. At the beginning of our work with the Guyana HIV/AIDS Reduction and Prevention Project (GHARP) we engaged the US Ambassador at the time to help bring visibilty to the project as well as local and international business involved in Guyana.
In the the years that followed, the group expanded and developed its own Advisory Board and grew into one of the most robust coalitions in the Pan Caribbean Region. In addition to adopting workplace programs and policies in cooperation with the ILO, members provided both financial and in-kind resources which helped support: orphans and vulnerable children; individuals infected or affected by HIV through micro-credit loans and job training and creation; media campaigns and national and community events; and transportation for physicians to reach patients in remote areas.
As the Advisory Board grew, the organization officially registered itself as a civil society organization. In 2008, 43 local and international companies came together to serve as the Founding Members of the Guyana Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GBCHA).
As the Coalition grew, it also offered confidential testing and access to treatment that offered convenient times that were not available elsewhere. Over time, the Coalition became the most popular site for counseling and testing. Through these partnerships, companies received support for HIV/AIDS workplace prevention programs and workplace policy development in order to develop sustainable ways of protecting the workforce and communities in which they operate. And building on the work of the International Labour Organization, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour, the Coalition helped strengthen the workplace as a focal point for education and training targeted at the reduction and prevention of HIV/AIDS and stigma and discrimination.
Forty three companies reached approximately 22,000 employees and an estimated additional 60,000, extended reach to families and local community members. To expand their reach to broader health area, the Coalition rebranded itself as the Guyana Business Coalition on Health Awareness.