PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa - Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) is supporting HIV/AIDS awareness, education and testing in Nelson Mandela Bay with the launch of the far-reaching 2011 Wellness Cluster programme.
The initiative assists automotive supplier companies’ response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic with Wellness Workplace Programmes. The Ford-AIDC-AWiSA Wellness Cluster was first launched in 2009 by the Ford Struandale Engine Plant, in conjunction with the Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) and Aids Workplace Programmes in Southern Africa (AWiSA).
Each year, the Wellness Cluster helps Ford’s family of supplier companies establish in-house HIV/AIDS initiatives. This coordinated, comprehensive effort provides crucial HIV/AIDS counselling and testing (HCT) to automotive industry workers and addresses a wide range of community health issues.
“The HIV/AIDS pandemic is the single greatest threat to the viability and success of the automotive sector in the Eastern Cape, and it’s essential that we tackle this issue with a strategic, carefully planned, well executed and measurable programme that can turn the tide, and secure a prosperous future for our companies and the wider community,” said Kurt Bothman, Human Resources manager at the Ford Struandale Engine Plant.
The project has achieved phenomenal success, with more than 1,000 automotive industry workers volunteering annually to be tested for HIV. More than 2,000 employees have completed the voluntary counselling and testing programme sponsored by FMCSA and the AIDC, a result that benefits not only the workers themselves, but potentially thousands more people in the surrounding community.
“The Wellness Cluster plays a vital role in the success and sustainability of the automotive industry in Nelson Mandela Bay,” Bothman noted.
Ten suppliers have established HIV/AIDS programmes under the initiative thus far. The 2011 project will bring local companies SA Canopy of Struandale, Halberg Guss of Korsten, and Halberg Guss Aluminium of Struandale into the Wellness Cluster programme.
The Ford Engine Plant plays a leading oversight role in the Wellness Cluster, assisting the supplier companies as a ‘big brother.’
As facilitator of the programme, the AIDC assesses each company’s existing levels of HIV/AIDS knowledge, and the status of any current or previous HCT and wellness projects conducted by the supplier. On a case-by-case basis, suppliers are given customised planning and training to support the HIV/AIDS awareness, counselling and testing initiative.
Monitoring and evaluation systems are in place in order to continually assess the progress, effectiveness and long-term sustainability of the Wellness Cluster programmes. Additionally, the supplier companies and employees participate in HIV/AIDS outreach projects with professionally trained counsellors in their respective communities. Numerous schools, AIDS havens, orphanages and individual families throughout Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage have benefited from these outreach efforts.
|Wellness Workplace programme participants from the Struandale Engine Plant, the AIDC, and Ford suppliers.|