Monday, October 02, 2006

The SMARTWork Project: Celebrating and Learning from Five Years of Global HIV/AIDS Workplace Programming

Event Title: Celebrating & Learning from Five Years of Global HIV/AIDS Workplace Programming
Sponsor: Academy for Educational Development (AED)
Location: AED - Academy Hall, 8th Floor
Date: Tuesday, September 27, 2006
Time: 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Approximate Number of Attendees: 95
Intern Attending: Saadiqa Lundy

Speakers: Deputy Undersecretary Carter; Matthew Roberts, Past Project Director, SMARTWork; Gessy Aubry, Country Coordinator, SMARTWork Haiti; Abiodun Adetoro, Country Coordinator, SMARTWork Nigeria; Natalya Lukanova, Country Coordinator, SMARTWork Ukraine; Patrick Burke, Country Coordinator, SMARTWork Vietnam; Susan Rogers, AED; Paula Church, Kristen Weeks, British Robinson, Victor Barnes.

Today marked the end of the six year long SMARTWork (Strategically Managing AIDS Responses Together in the Work Place) Project. The SMARTWork project was a U.S. government funded initiative which aimed at reducing the number of HIV infected persons, as well as reducing stigmatization and discrimination against those suffering from the disease, through the implementation of policy and workplace programming on HIV/AIDS education and prevention. SMARTWork projects operated in Nigeria, Haiti, Ukraine, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, and Zimbabwe. SMARTWork Country Coordinators from several sites spoke about their experience with the SMARTWork Project, detailing specific accomplishments, and discussing lessons learned. These presentations were followed by another presentation of overall results, given by Susan Rogers from AED.

The first speaker, Deputy Undersecretary James Carter, spoke about the negative impact HIV/AIDS has had on the labor force. According to Carter, there are 40 million people currently living with HIV and 36.5 million working people infected with the disease. This devastating epidemic is taking a major toll on the most economically productive age group.

The SMART Work Project represented an important step in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. According to past project director Matthew Roberts, bringing labor, business and government together resulted in a strong program. With each sector working together, new HIV/AIDS policies were created and eventually implemented in the workplace. As the four coordinators shared their experience with SMARTWork, they illustrated how coordination between different sectors made success possible. For instance, Gessy Aubry, the SMARTWork coordinator for Haiti, was able to convince a large number of companies to introduce HIV/AIDS education and support programs to the workplace. She noted that it was initially challenging trying to bring together business, government and labor unions, but that it ultimately proved to be a very effective coalition. SMARTWork got everybody to work together to reduce the number of HIV/AIDS cases. As a result, stigmatization has diminished. Aubry concluded by saying that one of the major lessons she learned was that four years was not enough time for her program to fully realize its goals. She suggested that when doing this type of program in a developing county, ten years should be the minimum time projection for project completion.

Mr. Abiodun Adetoro’s experience with SMARTWork was a bit different from that of Ms. Aubry. Mr. Adetoro had two years experience with SMARTWork as the Program Manager in Nigeria. During his short time there, 6,000 workers were tested and he helped to create the 2005 Workplace National Policy on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.

Ms. Natalya Lukanova, who worked in Ukraine, spent a lot of her time training leaders of trade unions and assisting them in educating others. She discussed the workplace program they created, which provides training to management personnel. Through this program hundreds of employees are educated, and as a result stigmatization is reduced. One lesson Ms. Lukanova learned from her experience was that work needs to be done at all levels; mainly at the national and enterprise level, in order to provide lots of information and services to workers.

The panel discussion ended with a presentation from Susan Rogers about macro-level SMARTWork results. According to Rogers, in Vietnam the government was the driving force of the program, labor was the driving force in Ukraine, and the business sector was the driving force in Haiti and Nigeria. SMARTWork made an impact in the following ways: (1) increased basic knowledge about HIV/AIDS, (2) built a coalition between the business, government and labor sectors to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and to reduce stigma, (3) implemented prevention programs, (4) provided motivation for targeted behavior change, (5) created permanent support structures to maintain and supplement all of these achievements.

The event concluded with a second panel, which addressed the topic, “Where Do We Go from Here?” The majority of the panelists agreed that targeting the informal sector should be the next step.

For more information about the SMARTWORK Project, please visit

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