MLT operates a health clinic for employees at our factory site in Tete, Mozambique, as well as first aid stations throughout many of our agronomy areas. The Tete clinic provides a combination of emergency medical treatment, primary health care and occupational health services. It is open 24 hours per day, six days a week during the processing season and nine hours per day, five days a week out of season. The clinic services, including medication, are provided free of charge.
The Tete clinic contains consultation rooms, a treatment room for minor surgical procedures, a laboratory, a pharmacy, an HIV office, and an emergency room. It also contains facilities for occupational health testing including audiometry and spirometry, and has male and female wards for short-term admission. The facility includes medical aid administration, a store room for medication and supplies, and a laundry.
Activities of the Tete health clinic include preventative medical care; general health education; first aid training; curative medical care; outpatient treatment; and inpatient treatment. We also offer acute management, stabilization and appropriate referral of medical emergencies; basic minor surgical procedures; chronic illness management; and occupational health care services. Our basic laboratory conducts a range of essential tests. We also offer annual health evaluations for permanent and seasonal employees; monitoring and documentation of work place injuries; and staff education regarding occupational health issues.
Health care services provided by the Tete clinic are available to all MLT factory employees—both permanent and seasonal. In the peak of the season, this totals about 2,500 employees. In season, the clinic sees approximately 1,500 patients per month, which totals about 14,000 consultations per year.
At the Tete health clinic, we employ 15 full-time staff including a doctor, a clinic supervisor, an occupational health nurse, a medical aid administrator, a laboratory technician, three medical technicians, a pharmacist, two nurses, an ambulance driver, three clinic aids, a part-time doctor, and a seasonal sanitation worker.
Basic health services are also available to all MLT agronomy employees, totaling more than 4,000 in-season. We have first aid stations in four of our agronomy divisions—Vila Ulongue, Nkhame, Molumbo, and Mandimba, and a fifth first aid post was recently completed in Cuamba. Currently, each first aid post sees between 200 to 400 patients per month.
Each agronomy first aid post is staffed by a full-time nurse and a sanitation worker. The first aid posts provide basic primary health care and occupational health services. They also assist with the evaluation and transportation of medical emergencies. Any complicated medical cases are referred to the MLT clinic in Tete for evaluation by the company doctor or directly to the nearest hospital.
Critical in this region is the issue of HIV and AIDs. MLT established a comprehensive HIV program when the factory was established in 2005. The program entails many facets aimed at the prevention, detection, and treatment of HIV. We employ a full-time nurse to implement and run this program, under the supervision of the company doctor.
Education is the key to success of this program, and we educate our employees by discussing HIV issues and showing audiovisual material at the clinic. We also engage local HIV drama groups to perform mini-plays and skits for our employees.
For prevention, in addition to our educational efforts, we provide condoms that are accessible to all our employees. The dispensing boxes are situated in the restrooms as well as other strategic points.
We have an active Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) service which began in 2007. Over the last nine years, we have seen an increase in the number of tests performed and a reduction in the prevalence of HIV-positive results.
In order to create a positive environment surrounding HIV testing, we started an initiative offering free T-shirts to employees when they test for the first time. This has successfully encouraged lots of employees to come in for HIV testing. This helps in our efforts to identify and start treatment of HIV-positive individuals early and encourages HIV-negative individuals to be proactive about staying HIV-negative. We are currently testing more than 1,500 people per year.
Those who test positive are referred to Tete Hospital so that they can be assessed for Anti-Retroviral Treatment (TARV). We follow up with HIV-positive individuals closely to help with the management of TARV as well as the treatment of infections.
We have also developed a TARV program in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. Through the program, we are able to provide TARV to qualifying employees at the MLT clinic. This program is the first of its kind in Mozambique.
We have expanded the HIV program into our agronomy areas as well, by training more than 30 HIV peer educators. Now, all 26 of our agronomy divisions have at least one peer educator who is involved in HIV activities. The peer educators receive a refresher training every two years. The HIV nurse visits every agronomy division at least once per year to perform VCT.
We have an HIV steering committee which meets quarterly to discuss the successes, improvement opportunities and direction of the program. The nurse is in constant communication with his counterparts in the government service, and we participate in many of their activities. For example, we have participated in the World AIDS Day march for the past eight years.
Our efforts are being acknowledged and lauded by the local government. In 2015, MLT received an award from the Tete Governor for achievement in fighting HIV. We look forward to expanding our efforts to fight the spread of this virus in the future, as well as working to keep our employees and their families healthy.