BP is the holding company of one of the world's largest petroleum and petrochemicals groups. Its main activities are exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas; refining, marketing, supply and transportation; and manufacturing and marketing of petrochemicals. BP has a growing activity in gas and power and in solar power generation. BP has well-established operations in Europe, North and South America, Australasia and Africa.
Training healthworkers in Indonesia
In Papua, as part of a five-year plan to improve the health of people living in communities close to our Tangguh LNG project, the Tangguh community health unit (TCHU), set up by BP in 2003, has trained local people to act as village healthworkers.
Surveillance of malaria and diarrhoea by TCHU since 2003, highlighted the fact that these two diseases are responsible for a significant burden of ill health and death in local villages. Malaria affects up to 20% of residents at any one time. Diarrhoea, which is particularly severe in the dry season from July to October, causes illness in up to 40% of local children and death in one out of five cases.
TCHU has taken steps to save lives in Papua by training local people as village healthworkers who can understand the risks of malaria, conduct malaria diagnosis tests and administer appropriate treatment. In addition, media campaigns aimed to raise awareness of health risks and promote healthcare services are undertaken.
The prevalence of malaria in the general population in the dry season has decreased from 10.2% in 2003 to 5.3% in 2006, while the percentage of deaths in cases of diarrhoea in children under five years of age has fallen from 23% to 3% during the same period.
While HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in the developed world have dropped due to education and better medical treatment, this is not the case for sub-Sahara Africa where the rate continues to rise. Inevitably, this has begun to impact on businesses. For example, it has become necessary to identify those in high-risk positions; in high-risk age groups and in customer-critical areas so that three trained people are available for every job.
Assuming average national prevalence rates, 20% of BP staff in Africa is already infected. While there are no figures specific to BP, it is reasonable to assume that this could increase to 30% in the next few years and that staff will soon begin to develop full-blown AIDS. Since there is an average period of seven years from infection to the onset of AIDS-related diseases and eight to 12 years before deaths occur, BP can expect 120 staff deaths a year in the near future.
To address this challenge BP has developed an HIV/AIDS policy and programme which assume that both the company and its staff have responsibilities in dealing with the crisis. Both the policy and the programmes are underpinned by key ethical and moral principles: non-disclosure, confidentiality, tolerance and non-discrimination.
The company acknowledges that the disease affects all levels of the workforce. It aims to reduce the stigma and discrimination against people who are infected by providing access to appropriate education and counselling, primary care and medical services to staff and their families infected and affected by AIDS. There is no compulsory testing for recruitment, promotion, or career development within BP. Individuals cannot be denied promotion, training and skills on the basis that they have HIV/AIDS.
However, voluntary testing, on a confidential basis and with appropriate pre-and-post-test counselling arrangements, is encouraged. Should company retirement funds, medical schemes or life insurance providers require HIV testing, employees will have freedom of choice in whether to undergo testing and will be made aware of any consequences of their choice.
At the same time as recognising its own responsibilities, BP expects all employees to take all reasonable steps to safeguard their own health. They must be able to do their jobs at the required levels of proficiency and safety, thereby protecting themselves, fellow workers and the public while enabling the company to operate effectively and responsibly.
For its part, the company will treat those with HIV/AIDS exactly the same as they would staff with any other serious illness. Normal company health policies and practices will apply and those with HIV/AIDS will be employed for as long as they effectively fulfil the requirements of their job. Should any one become incapable of performing his/her job, because of an HIV/AIDS related illness, an accommodation of duties, alternative position or other solutions will be sought, as they would for any other illness-related disability. Similarly, normal leave policies are applicable.
The company's internal HIV/AIDS education programmes are designed to ensure a full understanding of the disease and its implications and to facilitate the individual's ability to make appropriate choices. Guidelines and training are provided to all managers for managing staff with HIV/AIDS. All employees are informed of the terms and benefits, including specific limits and exclusions, available through retirement funds, medical schemes and or group life insurance. The intention is to reach 80% of all staff with workplace programmes in 2001 and achieve a 75% condom use and a reduction by 30% of the incidence of sexually transmitted disease within two years. Free condoms are already supplied in all workplaces and access to voluntary counselling and testing for HIV should be in place and available to at least a quarter of all employees by the end of 2001.
Ever since the HIV/AIDS Policy was announced, positive feedback has been received. More employees have asked to be tested, relocated, counselled or provided with medical care. Other organisations have also commended the company policy as leading by example, creating a ground for tolerance for people living with AIDS in the workplace.
The company seeks to reduce new infections among employees and prepare for the rapidly increasing demands of people with HIV/AIDS in the work situation. Its interventions are directed in two areas: Prevention (education, condom availability) and Counselling. HIV/AIDS partnerships with non-governmental organisations to educate communities about HIV/AIDS have been formed. Prime among them is that with Soul City.
The company social investment strategy strongly emphasises preventative education in the absence of cure. Progress has also been made to develop partnerships with organised labour. This has assisted in improving relations among the workplace stakeholders. Shop stewards have been trained and most participate actively. The company is affiliated to the South African Business Council Against HIV/AIDS which is affiliated to the Global Business Council Against AIDS.
Double page broadsheet wall-charts on HIV/AIDS have been published by BP in South Africa in conjunction with the Independent Newspaper Group.
The first episode in the fourth series of the popular television programme, Soul City, was broadcast to its South African audience on July 7, 2000 at 8.30pm. Soul City is no ordinary soap opera. It is public education and 'edutainment' of a high order, specially tuned to the needs of the rapidly urbanising populations of Africa.
Where can an abused woman turn for help? Where can you get finance to start your own business? How can you save money for your dreams? Can you beat high blood pressure? What do you do if your boss makes a pass at you? These are just a few of the questions woven into the storyline of the Soul City series.
After three award-winning series broadcasts in South Africa, Soul City has become a household name, its characters an integral part of the national landscape. Soul City aims to help people find answers to life's day-to-day dilemmas, to stimulate debate and to empower communities to take action around health and development priorities. It achieves this through stories about people who live ordinary lives much like those of the television viewers, radio listeners, or readers who pick up the printed material. Soul City gets its message across to an estimated 12 million audience.
The success of the Soul City concept has attracted enquiries from all around the world. At present, versions are being broadcast in a number of African countries, either in English or dubbed into French for Cote d'Ivoire or Portuguese for Angola and Mozambique. The first series has already been broadcast in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Kenya and Uganda have expressed great interest as well.
Soul City, in partnership with the Department for International Development in Britain, has embarked on a regional initiative to provide material on HIV/AIDS to all 12 to 16 year olds in Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland.
Soul City is seen as an international standard in terms of health and development communications. An edutainment manual is being developed, in response to international enquiries, to enable others to adapt the concept to local conditions.
BP has been a sponsor of Soul City since it began seven years ago. From our perspective, the Soul City project is a winner. Its growing popularity in South Africa and the increasing interest from other African states, particularly those where we have a presence, has been an added incentive to continue our support.
For the first time last year a Soul City promotion was held at BP forecourts to coincide with the launch of the new series.
In August 2000 a new 26-episode television programme called Soul Buddyz was launched in South Africa. The drama centres on a group of South African children who meet after school in a park. They represent children from all walks of life and have to deal with issues that children face all the time.
A co-production between Soul City, the Institute for Health and Development Communication and the South African Broadcasting Corporation, Soul Buddyz is a children's drama whose key topics are AIDS and sexuality, handling trauma of all kinds from bullying to sexual abuse to road accidents, and the rights of children with disabilities.
In Zambia, BP has joined forces with Konkola Mines to launch a Roll Back Malaria campaign. The objective is to eradicate the disease in five mining towns in the country's Copperbelt. The project is worth $560,000 over two years, of which BP is contributing $60,000. Local homes are being sprayed with insecticide to destroy malaria-carrying mosquitoes, while grass is being cut and storm water drains cleared to reduce potential breeding grounds. Insecticide-treated bed nets are also being distributed to vulnerable groups, including people in clinics and children in orphanages. Alongside these practical preventative measures, people living in local communities are also being taught how to maintain clean, mosquito-free living environments.
In Angola, BP operates a malaria-management program to reduce the risk of infection to its employees. This includes educational initiatives to make people more aware of the health risks the disease presents, along with practical advice about how to avoid mosquito bites, what medication to use in case of infection and how to ensure early diagnosis and effective treatment.
BP is also working with OGP and IPIECA, representing the oil and gas industry, in the production of global guidelines on malaria management and control. These guidelines will recommend a hierarchy of interventions from vector control to chemoprophylaxis, with the emphasis on combinations of interventions rather than just chemoprophylaxis.