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Cablegate: Sri Lanka: National Declaration On Prevention of Hiv/Aids

VZCZCXRO9868
RR RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLM #0778/01 1501201
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 301201Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6156
INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1025
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0151
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 7132
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 5235
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 000778

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/INS
DOL/ILAB FOR TINA MCCARTER
MCC FOR S. GROFF, D. TETER, D. NASSIRY AND E. BURKE

E.O 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECON TBIO CE

SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: NATIONAL DECLARATION ON PREVENTION OF HIV/AIDS
IN WORKPLACES


1. Summary: An International Labor Organization-initiated National
Tripartite Declaration on Prevention of HIV/AIDS at workplaces in
Sri Lanka was signed recently. Partners in this new program include
government agencies, trade unions, trade chambers and employers. The
Declaration describes plans to create awareness of HIV/AIDS in the
workplace and reduce the social stigma attached to the disease.
Although Sri Lanka is a low prevalence country for HIV/AIDS, many
factors make it vulnerable to an outbreak of the disease. Lack of
resources could hinder full implementation of the program, though
some progress has been made since the signing of the declaration,
mainly due to ILO efforts. End Summary.

2. Sri Lankan government ministries and agencies, chambers of
commerce, trade unions, a tourist hotels association, and employer
organizations signed a national declaration on prevention of
HIV/AIDS in workplaces on April 3, 2007. The declaration endorses
the guidelines of the International Labor Organization's Code of
Practice in the World of Work. The signatory organizations have
committed to establish HIV/AIDS prevention and education programs in
workplaces and ensure zero tolerance of discrimination associated
with the disease, both in the public and private sectors.

SRI LANKA - LESS THAN 0.1 PERCENT INFECTED
------------------------------------------

3. Sri Lanka is a low prevalence country for HIV/AIDS, with less
than 0.1 percent of the adult population infected. However, Sri
Lanka is vulnerable to an increased rate of HIV infection due to
many factors including a large youth population, an increasing
number of sex workers, internally and externally migrating
populations, and large number of tea plantation workers lacking
basic health education. Lack of reliable data makes it difficult to
predict changes in the rate of infection. The possibility of the
disease being transmitted rapidly within the country makes it an
issue of national importance, deserving high priority within
workplaces.

COMMITMENTS MADE BY THE SIGNATORIES
-----------------------------------

4. The signatories to this declaration have made the following
commitments:

A. All signatories will:

-- Establish a management team in conformity with ILO's Code of
Practice on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work

-- Encourage formulating in-house policies and programs in keeping
with the code of practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work and the
national AIDS policy

B. Trade unions and employers organizations will take the lead in
protecting workers and their families from HIV/AIDS.

C. The Ministry of Labor Relations and Manpower will:

-- Educate its employees on HIV/AIDS and implement the Code of
Practice on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work, both in the ministry and
its associated agencies

-- Encourage implementation of the code of practice on HIV/AIDS at
all workplaces in the country

-- Encourage HIV/AIDS education to prevent spread of the disease at
workplaces, provide care and support for infected employees and
maintain zero tolerance for discriminatory practices

INITIAL ACTIONS TO IMPLEMENT DECLARATION
----------------------------------------

5. The Declaration is being printed and will be widely disseminated
among workplaces. So far, fourteen workplaces have signed the
Declaration. The ILO plans to conduct a workshop in June to develop
an HIV policy for trade unions. Additionally, the Ceylon Chamber of
Commerce has initiated an awareness program to reach 100,000 Free
Trade Zone employees.

6. Comment: Financial and human resource constraints could hinder

COLOMBO 00000778 002 OF 002


successful implementation of the declaration. The ILO is making
commendable efforts with its limited resources to move this
initiative forward. However, success will require similar
commitment by the trade unions, employers and government agencies to
move the Declaration from paper into reality.

BLAKE

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