Originally established in 1936, Sappi Limited has maintained its global headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa while growing to become the global leader in coated fine (woodfree) paper and chemical cellulose (dissolving pulp). Operations are managed through two divisions, Sappi Fine Paper and Sappi Forest Products.
Sappi Fine Paper operates through business units in North America, Europe and South Africa. The group produces a wide range of coated fine paper brands, as well as uncoated graphic and business papers, coated and uncoated specialty papers and casting release papers.
Sappi Forest Products, a fully integrated pulp and paper business, operates through business units in South Africa and Swaziland. The company owns or manages approximately 540 000ha of sustainably grown forestry plantations in Southern Africa, producing bleached and unbleached kraft pulp for Sappi's own consumption; market pulp for export; packaging paper; newsprint and solid wood products as well as chemical cellulose, used in a wide variety of applications. These include the production of acetate and specialty chemicals, together with viscose and Lyocell Â® fibres for the textile industry.
Sappi Trading operates a network for the sales and distribution of chemical cellulose and paper pulp throughout the world as well as for our other products including coated and uncoated fine paper, coated speciality paper, coating release, newsprint and packaging paper, outside their home markets.
In 1992 Sappi Limited established an HIV/AIDS programme to measure, monitor and manage the disease in order to mitigate the risks posed to employees, the organisation and the communities in which we operate. The programme included prevalence studies to gauge infection levels, voluntary testing programmes that encouraged workers to establish their sero-status, the provision of medical care as well as a major focus on peer educator programmes aimed at education and awareness.
In the year 2000 the guidelines established in the early 1990s was formalised by publishing an HIV/AIDS policy dealing with:
· The development, implementation and monitoring of HIV/AIDS programmes in the workplace;
· Awareness education and training on the rights of all persons with regards to HIV/AIDS;
· Reasonable and appropriate support for all employees infected or affected by HIV/AIDS subject to the availability of resources and the rules of employee benefit schemes; and
The promotion of acceptance and openness regarding HIV/AIDS in the workplace.
HIV/AIDS programmes in the workplace
The aim is to encourage all people to take a pro-active approach to the pandemic. Each operating unit has an elected HIV/AIDS committee representing employee wellbeing staff, health and line management, human resources staff, trade unions and peer educators. The committees are represented by a co-ordinator responsible for overseeing the workplace HIV/AIDS prevention programme.
Knowledge, Attitude and Practices (KAP) studies conducted at operating units ensure that the HIV/AIDS programmes remain dynamic, and can be modified in accordance with the particular needs of each unit.
Awareness education and training
Education programmes focusing on changing behavioural patterns are presented in the workplace and surrounding communities by nominated Sappi employees who have been trained as peer educators.
Health workers also play an important role in promoting awareness, encouraging a healthy lifestyle and helping infected and affected employees to understand the disease through intensive counselling and support. These workers receive continuous training to ensure they keep abreast of the latest developments.
Early diagnosis and effective treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can reduce the risk of sexual transmission of HIV. Consequently, STI treatment has been integrated into basic health services offered in the workplace.
Establishing levels of infection is essential both in ascertaining the effectiveness of education and awareness programmes and in planning reaction to the disease. Against this backdrop, voluntary counselling and testing programmes (VCTs) have been promoted as part of health care service since 2000. Since inception, the number of employees utilising VCT programmes has tripled. This has led to an increase in the number of employees participating in the HIV/AIDS managed care programmes.
Awareness activities include exhibitions and campaigns linked to World Aids Day, National Condom Week and Aids Memorial Day.
Support for infected and affected employees
Medical protocols have been established to ensure that HIV/AIDS can be managed like any other chronic disease. Since August 2002, medical care for employees has included the provision of Nevirapine treatment to prevent mother to child transmission. Anti-retroviral treatment has been offered to HIV-infected permanent employees as part of an HIV/AIDS treatment programme since the beginning of 2003. Nutrition, treatment, medication, on-going support and education as well as home-based care make up the other elements of the programme.
Partnership is extremely important in changing the scope and shape of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. As a member of communities Sappi has established partnerships with the relevant role players, in particular Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the South African Government, national and provincial so as to implement a comprehensive HIV/AIDS programme, eliminating duplication and making optimum use of relevant resources.
The Government of Swaziland has introduced an anti-retroviral treatment programme for all HIV/AIDS patients. The Sappi Usutu Mill in Swaziland is providing the resources for counselling, blood sampling and administration of medication for employees, their families and the broader community in order to ensure the sustainability of the programme.
Promotion of acceptance
A strong and pro-active response to the challenge of HIV/AIDS also aims to create a culture of non-discrimination so that people can be open about their status without fear of stigma or rejection.