Sri Lanka to launch first National Policy on HIV and AIDS on Monday

July 16, Colombo: Sri Lanka Minister of Labour and Labour Relations Gamini Lokuge on Monday, July 18, will launch the country’s first National Policy on HIV and AIDS in the working place.

The Sri Lankan Cabinet has officially endorsed the Policy in December 2010 and called for joint implementation between Labour Ministry and the Ministry of Health.

According to a release from the United Nations in Sri Lanka, the National Policy has been prepared on the basis of international human rights instruments such as ILO labour standard on HIV in the workplace.

The Policy prohibits discrimination of people based on real or perceived HIV status for purposes of recruitment or at any other stage of employment and calls on all Sri Lankan workplaces to educate workers on HIV and AIDS, promote voluntary testing and counseling services and establish linkages with government healthcare providers for HIV treatment and care. Prevention of new infections among workers is also a key feature of the policy.

Donglin Li, Director of the International Labour Organization in Sri Lanka has noted that prevention is critical at the early stage of the epidemic.

According to Li, the ILO partners, the Ministry of Labour, the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon and trade unions, have impressive delivery power that could reach nearly 8.5 million workers with lifesaving prevention.

“The ILO is currently working with partners carrying out prevention and rights protection programs in industrial sectors where workers are more vulnerable to HIV infection including international migration, maritime, fisheries and tourism,” the UN release said.

The new policy also calls for targeted programs in the health sector to improved occupation health and safety in healthcare settings while increasing healthcare worker basic knowledge on HIV and AIDS.

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