U.N. Office in Kenya Calls for Contractors To Provide Health Care Coverage, Including HIV Care, to Workers
A United Nations official in Nairobi, Kenya, on Friday said that the organization will require contractors to provide an eight-point health and welfare package, including the provision of antiretroviral drugs, to any staff members who work at least half the week at the United Nations campus in Kenya, Xinhua News Agency reports. The program represents the first of its kind for the United Nations in the developing world (Xinhua News Agency, 7/18). The announcement comes after the Global AIDS Alliance in May released documentation showing that the U.N. did not provide HIV/AIDS medical coverage to subcontractors in its Kenya office. The release followed eight months of negotiations for HIV/AIDS care for people who are full-time workers at the United Nations' Kenya campus; the employees perform jobs including maintenance, cleaning, landscaping and food services. Under official U.N. policy, consultants and subcontractors do not receive medical coverage from the agency, according to a U.N. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/27).
Under the new agreement, the U.N. will require contractors to offer health care coverage, including the provision of antiretroviral drugs, to 390 workers, the Associated Press reports. The new agreement also calls for the contractors to increase wages, subsidize transportation and provide four months of maternity leave (Mealer, Associated Press, 7/18). Klaus Toepfer, director general of the U.N. office in Nairobi, said, "The U.N. takes its responsibility in its host countries seriously and we sincerely believe we have come up with a fair and balanced package that reflects the social, health and economic realities of Africa." He added, "We hope these new pay and conditions, that will affect all future contracts with the U.N. here in Kenya, will become a blueprint for improved terms and conditions for employees of U.N. contractors across Africa and the developing world" (Xinhua News Agency, 7/18). The workers are expected to receive their benefits by February 2004, when the last of the current contracts comes up for renewal, the Associated Press reports (Associated Press, 7/18).