Despite many differences in how health care is delivered, people around the world share many public health concerns. For some of the most important concerns, Colgate has established global guidelines and committees that provide information, guidelines and support to regional, national and local efforts. The Company's goal continues to be helping prepare for and reducing some of the world's most serious health risks.
With an estimated 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS in 2007, according to the Joint United Nations Programme, HIV/AIDS is a pandemic that concerns the entire world. Despite recent, improved access to anti-retroviral treatment and care in many parts of the world, 2.7 million people were newly infected with HIV and AIDS claimed two million lives in 2007. An estimated 270,000 of these were children - more than 90 % in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Colgate recognizes that the HIV/AIDS crisis profoundly affects not only individuals and communities everywhere but also economic and social stability.
As a global company, we accept our responsibility to provide support to combat this pandemic. We established our first HIV/AIDS Committee and global strategy in Africa in the 1990s. Prior to that, some countries around the Colgate world had already put strategies in place. For example, the Colgate HIV/AIDS program started in Brazil in 1986, just five years after the condition was first recognized.
Africa is the region most heavily affected by HIV/AIDS: 67 % of all people living with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa, as are 60 % of all women infected with HIV. Yet, the pandemic also is growing in Greater Asia, while continuing to spread in other regions of the world, including in the United States.
Colgate's Global Strategy
To confront HIV/AIDS, we have committees in each division: Africa/Middle East, Greater Asia, Latin America, North America, Europe and South Pacific and Hill's. Each division's HIV/AIDS committee has General Manager involvement, and includes a cross-functional and cross-level representation of employees. The committees share best practices from around the world on an online forum and through direct communication with one another and quarterly reporting to headquarters.
Guidelines and Policy
A major aspect of our global strategy focuses on developing and implementing guidelines and policies, including our commitment to treating all Colgate people fairly and honoring confidentiality. Colgate-Palmolive's Global HIV/AIDS Policy Statement is applicable to all Colgate people worldwide. The Company does not require testing or self-disclosure of HIV status by employees. In some areas, Colgate also offers a toll-free, telephone employee assistance program for employees not comfortable with on-site facilities.
Education and Awareness
One of our top priorities is to provide effective education and AIDS awareness to Colgate people and their families. Throughout the Colgate world, we continue to expand our information and awareness campaigns, health promotion programs and community awareness campaigns. We provide training for all workers who may come into contact with body fluids, voluntary counseling and AIDS testing.
The Company also trains peer educators to encourage discussions and provide further information. In Latin America, Colgate has partnered with our advertising agency to create an internal HIV/AIDS awareness campaign for use throughout the region.
We sponsor a variety of special events: in Africa, we organize yearly World AIDS Day activities and Family Day. In Vietnam, we hold awareness contests. In Brazil, our special events include Carnival and Accident Prevention Week. In North America, we are currently launching an education and awareness program aligned with World AIDS Day activities. To further our AIDS awareness goals, we offer information to the public about HIV/AIDS and the effects on oral health in our Colgate Oral Care Center.
Access to Treatment
Providing access to treatment is another integral element of our global strategy to eradicate HIV/AIDS. Thanks to the assistance of local governments, Colgate is able to provide medical and life insurance coverage in certain areas in conjunction with Colgate-supported insurance. Throughout the world, Colgate provides the same application of benefit plans to employees with HIV/AIDS as for any other medical treatment.
We partner with local governments and organizations to develop regionally relevant programs, increase financial support and increase our voluntary testing and counseling efforts. For example, to effectively implement the HIV/AIDS strategy in Asia, Colgate has partnered with non-governmental organizations such as the Thailand Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, the International HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Program (SMARTWork) in Vietnam, the Modicare Foundation in India, and Maria Stopes in China. In Mexico, we have partnered with Consejo Nacional Empresarial sobre SIDA (CONAES), a group of some of the largest private employers in Mexico working to intensify efforts to end HIV/AIDS-related stigma in the Mexican workplace.
Colgate-Palmolive Thailand has been recognized as a leader in workplace AIDS initiatives, and was awarded the AIDS-response Standards Organization (ASO) Gold Level certificate in 2006. The award recognized Colgate's leadership in non-discrimination toward employees living with HIV/AIDS, support for employees living with HIV/AIDS, the HIV/AIDS education provided to employees, and community involvement. In Argentina, the Huesped Foundation recognized Colgate's efforts to address HIV/AIDS with an award in 2003.
Colgate also helps support outside volunteer organizations, such as the St. Francis Care Centre in South Africa, the Zimbabwe AIDS Prevention & Support Organization and the Association of People with AIDS in Kenya. In Mexico, Colgate donated dental equipment to the AIDS Foundation (Foundation Mexicana de Lucha Contra el SIDA), while in Venezuela, Colgate made donations for a school to support 150 children living with AIDS.
Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals supports HIVdent.org, an internet organization designed to facilitate the oral health care of people living with HIV disease and incorporate rapid HIV screening into routine dental care. Through Colgate's support, HIVdent.org has developed HIV-specific dental programs and improved access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) across the United States.
In 2006, Colgate became a member of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC), the preeminent organization comprising more than 200 international companies dedicated to combating the AIDS pandemic. More information can be found at www.gbcimpact.org. Colgate's efforts in this area have been influenced by active stakeholder engagement.
Preparing for a Potential Influenza Pandemic
Colgate recognizes the importance of being prepared for a global influenza outbreak. The Company's Pandemic Preparedness team, formed in 2005, comprises senior Colgate leaders from Human Resources; Global Security; Corporate Communications; Environmental, Occupational Health and Safety; and Risk Management. The team worked closely with world health care groups such as the World Health Organization and International SOS to develop a comprehensive preparedness plan that Colgate has implemented locally around the world.
The plan offers guidance on preparing for an outbreak and measures to ensure the health and safety of Colgate people, maintaining business continuity, prevention of disease within a Colgate facility, and procedures for obtaining and using personal protective equipment. The plan also includes policies on business travel during each stage of an influenza outbreak if widespread infection does occur. Colgate has established a place on our intranet to facilitate communications between the Pandemic Preparedness team and local subsidiary teams. The team also uses Colgate's intranet to communicate with employees about flu pandemics, as well as personal hygiene tips.
As a leading global manufacturer of bar and liquid hand soaps, Colgate recognizes its responsibility to communicate the importance of proper handwashing as a means of preventing the spread of influenza. Colgate has partnered with public health officials around the world in a variety of programs, such as the "Clean Hands, Good Health" global initiative. Since the program's inception in 2000, it has touched more than 20 million children in more than 20 countries on five continents. Colgate also serves on the steering committee of the World Bank-sponsored handwashing initiative, the Global Public Private Partnership to Promote Handwashing with Soap. For more information about Colgate's commitment to handwashing and hygiene, please click here.