HIV/AIDS affects more than just the bottom line
December 1, 2009 Leave a comment
A UNAIDS study in the year 2000 on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the Kenya predicted that the scourge would leave the Kenyan economy one-sixth smaller than it would have been in the absence of HIV/AIDS. Well, the pandemic has wreaked more havoc both on the economy as well as business.
Not only has the scourge adversely affected productivity and costs, but HIV/AIDS continues to have an invidious effect that is unquantifiable but yet profoundly impacts enterprise.
Absenteeism is usually the first and most common impact on business productivity. The number of days an employee reports to work can be measured, but this can also be a trigger for discord in labour relations when other healthy workers have to shoulder the responsibilities of the absentee.
The next impact is usually a loss of vital skills, which in turn makes entrepreneurs hesitant to invest in training for their employees. Most times, when a small business owner sponsors an employee to training they also expect that this employee will act as some sort of champion of the newly learned skill or knowledge, spreading it amongst the other employees. Thus the loss caused by AIDS doesn’t just end with the illness or death of that employee.
Finally there is the emergence of a loss of morale amongst the other staff members. What else can you expect when attending funerals of colleagues and their family members becomes a common event.
On World AIDS Day, the National AIDS Control Council should salute small businesses that take measures to protect their workers who are uninfected, whilst offering appropriate support and services to those who are infected. These are the entrepreneurs who are on the front-line fighting the scourge that threatens to shrink and sink the economy.
The government on its part could also provide incentives to small business entrepreneurs by introducing tax incentives for greater involvement in AIDS prevention.