By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Due to health concerns in the public sector, the biggest employer in the country, the Ministry of Education, is staging a four-day conference on HIV/AIDS in the workplace from this morning. Nangolo Mbumba, the Minister of Education, will officially open the conference, expected to be attended by senior personnel in the ministry. “The Ministry of Education, as the lead agency of the education sector, engages so many employees and as such cannot separate itself from the health concerns of its employees,” it was announced in a media release by Toivo Mvula, the control liaison officer in the said ministry. According to him, as the largest employer in the country, the health of all staff members, including teachers, cannot be taken for granted. “The prevalence of HIV/AIDS among teachers, managers and personnel can undermine the education sector’s ability to achieve its educational objectives. Projections in 2002 suggested that one in every seven educators were HIV-positive. The pandemic can have a major impact on the quality of education as the efficiency of teachers will be affected,” Mvula said. This conference will give sector managers the opportunity to learn from experts in the field of HIV/AIDS in order to establish and implement a workplace programme to help address the illness. Topics that will be covered during the four-day workshop by experts include: HIV/AIDS testing, counselling, treatment in the workplace, support to wellness programmes, fighting the HIV/AIDS stigma, national statistics and response, legal issues concerning HIV/AIDS, constraints and challenges about the illness to the public sector, living in an AIDS reality, the impact of AIDS on African business, knowing one’s status and living positively. The conference starts at 08h30 this morning at the Safari Hotel.
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