As the ASEAN Business Coalition on HIV and AIDS (ASEAN BCA) coordinator and secretariat from 2018-2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) spearheaded the 6th meeting on November 25 2020 via a Zoom conference. The meeting was attended by delegates from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
In his keynote speech, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said that the Philippines continues to respond to the challenges of the HIV/AIDS situation in the country despite the health issues brought about by Covid-19. He stressed that the “…ostracization of workers with HIV and AIDS continues to be a threat to their livelihood because the disease is treated as a con in the hiring process and grounds for termination of regularized employees. It is important that we establish effective workplace programs to reinforce the health seeking behaviours of workers with HIV and AIDS.”
OSHC Executive Director Noel C. Binag mentioned the issuance of the Republic Act 11166 or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018 which ensures that the basic human rights of PLHIV’s are protected and they have access to health services without the fear of being discriminated.
The delegates from the ASEAN Member States (AMS) presented the progress reports of their respective National BCAs and updates in the Implementation of the Code of Practice on HIV and AIDS in the Workplace. Most of the AMS are in the process of strengthening their codes of practice on HIV and AIDS in the workplace.
The coordinatorship of the ASEAN BCA was turned over to Singapore. “It has been an honor for the Philippines to have served as the ASEAN BCA coordinator for the past two years and we would like to acknowledge Singapore who will be the next coordinator. We know that the plans and projects of this body will continue to flourish under your excellent leadership,” said Secretary Bello.
The delegates from Singapore facilitated the discussions on the ASEAN BCA Work Plan for 2020-2022.