‘Public-private partnership’ to quell TB, AIDS, among migrant workers
Corporate Social Responsibility | Health | Labour and Migration
Businesses, government departments, NGOs and multilateral agencies have signed up to a China Health Alliance that will “educate, test, treat and support Chinese company employees, especially migrant workers, at risk of TB and AIDS,” according to the World Economic Forum, which launched the Alliance on September 11 during the second day of a Forum summit in Beijing.
China ranks second in the world behind India in TB infections. It is estimated that 45% of the Chinese population is infected with a latent form of TB and the current number of active cases stands at 4.5 million, with more than 250,000 TB deaths per year. According to government figures, 650,000 Chinese people had contracted the HIV virus by the end of 2005. It is generally recognised that the two epidemics can overlap and reinforce each other.
Alliance members will create TB and HIV workplace programmes for migrants from rural areas.
“Migrant workers are the toughest to reach with policies and programmes,” said Francesca Boldrini, Director of the Forum’s Global Health Initiative. “Business is ideally placed to reach out to them and this is why we believe the China Health Alliance is a major step. The Global Health Initiative has already secured in-kind resources from companies to coordinate this programme that could provide TB and HIV services to up to 5 million people.”
Founding corporate members of the Alliance include Accenture, BD, China National Textile and Apparel Council, Constella Futures, Esquel, iKang, Karstadt Quelle, Pfizer, Standard Chartered Bank, and Swire Beverages. Some of these companies have already experimented with workplace health education programmes.
Also joining the Alliance are UN agencies, international NGOs Marie Stopes International, Social Accountability and World Vision International, and the Shenzhen-based Institute of Contemporary Observation.
The Alliance plans to start a pilot project targeting migrant workers in Guangdong Province this autumn.
Established in 1971 and incorporated as a foundation in Switzerland, the World Economic Forum brings together corporate members, political leaders and private philanthropists to create public benefit ‘public-private sector partnerships’ worldwide.
Report by Nick Young, September 12, 2006