Tata Steel's AIDS Awareness Programme
Tata Steel, Indias largest private sector steel company, is located in Jamshedpur in the state of Jharkhand. Tata Steel has a longstanding commitment to social responsibility and in the early-1990s, it expanded its well-established social responsibility and community programmes to include the AIDS Awareness Programme. The goal was to provide information and education on HIV/AIDS to the people of three districts namely Saraikela-Kharswan, East & West Singhbhum, and to encourage adoption of preventive methods.
The commitment to this programme is top-down with a written policy on HIV/AIDS. In 1994, Tata Steel created the Core Group AIDS Awareness, the Nodal Centre AIDS and the AIDS Cell to develop strategies for prevention of HIV/AIDS and integrate AIDS awareness into existing department and community programmes in the company. The mission of these groups is to promote AIDS awareness and adoption of safer behaviours and to reduce the stigma and discrimination towards PLWHA (People Living With HIV/AIDS), both in the workplace and in urban and rural communities around Jamshedpur.
The Core Group AIDS, under the chairmanship of Dy Managing Director (Corporate Services) Tata Steel, comprises human resources professionals, social workers and medical personnel from Tata Steel and receives technical support from the AIDS Cell. The role of the Core Group AIDS is critical in managing large and varied AIDS Awareness Programmes and in finding innovative approaches to HIV/AIDS prevention. For example, during the pre-Census 2000 and Census 2001, the enumerators also provided information on AIDS at every house. The group also established a Male Clinic for migrant workers as a result of their study on the role of men and migrant workers in the epidemic. The role of the Nodal Centre AIDS is to coordinate all AIDS Awareness programmes within Tata Steel.
The AIDS Awareness Programme was integrated in the mission of Tata Steels own Personnel, Public Health, Education, Corporate Communication and Social Services and Welfare departments and of its existing community programmes. The Centre for Family Initiatives, which operates 21 clinics in the city of Jamshedpur, promotes AIDS awareness along with safe motherhood, child survival, health awareness, and sex education. The Community Development & Social Welfare Department, which operates mainly in slum areas of the city through 12 centres and 4 sub-centres, added AIDS awareness to its other welfare services. The Tata Steel Rural Development Society, created in 1979, has a mobile medical team that now provides education on HIV/AIDS prevention to rural communities. Finally, the Tata Steel Tribal & Harijan Welfare Cell, which was set up in 1974 to provide educational and cultural development schemes for tribal and marginalized communities, regularly conducts AIDS Awareness programmes for them in Jamshedpur area.Tata Steel has evolved a corporate sector model to prevent HIV/AIDS, which is widely studied and admired. In 2003, the company received the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS Award for its AIDS Initiatives benefiting the community. This award was a great encouragement for the AIDS Awareness Programme and an acknowledgment of the companys efforts and successes in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Listed below are some of the projects that Tata Steel initiated through the AIDS Awareness Programme:
- Safe Highway project covering 60 km of highways between Paradeep and Daitari in Orissa, implemented in coordination with NACO (National AIDS Control Organisation).
- Free Health Clinics and Counselling Centres for truck-drivers and their helpers at Transport Nagar (a truckers stoppage point).
- Free Male Clinic for migrant workers, providing HIV/AIDS testing, free health check-up, counselling, condoms and educational material on HIV/AIDS.
- Installation and maintenance of condom vending machines at 6 locations to ease availability of the product to the local community.
- To ensure supply of Safe blood, Tata Steels employees, their families and the general community are encouraged to donate blood to the Jamshedpur Blood Bank, where blood is screened for HIV, Hepatitis B and C and Syphilis and where voluntary counselling and testing is offered.
- The Ladies Core Group, composed of spouses of local CEOs, was created to address specific needs of women and to promote HIV/AIDS awareness in urban slums.
- The Tata Main Hospital (TMH) has committed to treat HIV/AIDS patients without discrimination. The hospital is also committed to treat patients who are denied treatment elsewhere.
- Awareness is also promoted though media and communication. Documentary films are screened regularly on local cable television for viewers in and around Jamshedpur. A video vans showing HIV/AIDS films circulate in semi-urban and rural areas. Nukkad Nataks (Street Plays) are organized to spread the message on HIV/AIDS prevention to the population.
The company estimates that between April 2002 and March 2003, 1,725 AIDS Awareness Programmes were conducted covering 118,814 participants, a significant increase from the year before (between April 2001 and March 2002, 1,495 programmes were conducted covering 79,960 participants). During the past three years, the company has conducted about 30 Training of Trainers workshops, preparing approximately 1,800 grassroots trainers who will act as resource facilitators and peer leaders in the delivery of AIDS Awareness programmes. Between April 2001 and March 2002, 175 spots with messages on AIDS aired on BBC Television and 42 Video Van Shows were presented. Between April 2000 and March 2003, the company conducted approximately 200 Nukkad Nataks (Street Plays) with some 50,000 participants. Finally, as a result of Tisco School teachers spreading the message on HIV/AIDS, the level of HIV/AIDS awareness among students was raised from 67.86% to 86.23% between April 2002 and March 2003.
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