SANRAL ups its fight against HIV/AIDS

Online since 1.03.2017 • Filed under Health • From Issue 5 - March 2017 - August 2017 page(s) 44
SANRAL ups its fight against HIV/AIDS

The South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) has substantially stepped up its commitment to its fight against HIV/AIDS with its landmark wellness programme now accessible to more than 2 000 workers on its national Routine Road Maintenance (RRM) projects.

The national construction industry is adversely affected by the depletion of skills, most notably caused by HIV/AIDS and opportunistic infections such as Tuberculosis. As such, SANRAL is championing industry workers – among the most at risk given their work circumstances – by taking a landmark step to eradicating the impact of disease on its Routine Road Maintenance (RRM) workers.

The implementation of this national programme is designed to assist with workers’ general wellness management by providing tools, one-on-one counselling with a wellness champion, and a hotline they can call. The programme training material varies from substance abuse and alcoholism, lifestyle diseases management and prevention, and broader wellness communication campaigns and wellness days.

‘As a key player in the roads construction industry, SANRAL has an important role in leading the sector in promoting the wellness of our workers through education and providing opportunities for regular testing for HIV/AIDS, TB, and maintaining a treatment programme post diagnosis,’ says Kobus van der Walt, SANRAL’s Western Cape Regional Manager.

‘Poverty and the lack of access to proper healthcare in rural areas means that people aren’t always aware of the dangers of ill-health or the impact it has for the broader community. HIV/AIDS is a societal issue because families lose bread winners – the pandemic is not over and is not limited to individuals. We are not able to break the poverty cycle and South Africa is prevented from closing the industry’s already widening scarce-skills gap with essential jobs such as graders and digger-loader operators.’

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS, TB, and preventable substance abuse is often a result of poor social awareness and is linked to structural factors inherent in the construction sector, such as solitary work environments, extended periods spent away from home, and inadequate access to healthcare services.

The programme now covers all construction workers, including sub-contractors and their immediate families, working on SANRAL’s roads’ maintenance projects nationally. Over the last three years, workers from both the Western and Northern Cape provinces have already benefitted from the programme as part of a successful initial pilot project.

Now, all RRM workers are provided with free training, counselling and testing for a range of illnesses and are provided with access to healthcare professionals for treatment. Some 17 Wellness Champions have been appointed and undergone SETA-accredited peer educator training during the pilot project. The roads agency has appointed CareWorks HIV Management to manage and facilitate the programme within the Western and Northern Cape region because of its proven track record in carrying out wellness programmes in South Africa. They will be responsible for training outcomes, ensuring that all HIV and TB-positive staff gain access to life-saving treatment, and that HIV and TB-negative employees acquire adequate knowledge to be able to manage their status. For more information, visit

Issue 5 - March 2017 - August 2017

Issue 5 - March 2017 - August 2017

This article was featured on page 44 of SABI Magazine Issue 5 - March 2017 - August 2017 .

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