In partnership with World Bank – IFC Serena hotels developed a comprehensive HIV workplace and community program to reduce the risk of HIV infection among employees.
Serena employs more than 2300 people at 19 hotels and lodges that serve the booming tourism industry at beaches, parks and game reserves in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zanzibar. But, while Serena offers its guests a chance to “get away from it all”, the company could not escape the realities of the world around it. Between 1998 and 2002, Serena lost 35 employees to AIDS in Kenya alone. When
Kenya’s National AIDS Control Council launched a campaign to engage private sector response to the disease, Serena’s management took up the challenge.
The company developed a comprehensive HIV workplace and community programme. The programme was designed to reduce the vulnerability of employees and their families to HIV infection; lessen the adverse impact of HIV on those affected; and eliminate stigma and discrimination against employees infected and affected by HIV. World Bank – IFC provided training in programme monitoring and evaluation; provided seed funding to support the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Serena’s HIV activities; and through a collaborative effort with the nongovernmental organization NOPE offered technical support in the development of a training programme of wellness champions in Kenya.
AIDS-related deaths among Serena employees declined from more than 35 in the five years before the programme began, to eight over the next five years. HIV infections among staff have fallen, absenteeism has dropped, and the company is operating more efficiently. In 2007, with IFC’s continuing support, the company transformed its AIDS effort into a comprehensive wellness programme, covering a wide range of health and wellness issues. The expanded wellness programme now also promotes active healthy lifestyles designed to reduce injuries; sexually transmitted infections; communicable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and typhoid; lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease; sexual harassment; alcohol and drug use; and violence. HIV remains a central focus of the effort.