Keeping healthy is not only a case of maintaining your fitness level, but it also pertains to one’s well being physically, mentally and emotionally. The Office of the Premier’s Employee Health and Wellness Programme in partnership with the Government Employment Medical Scheme (GEMS) hosted the annual Provincial Employee Health and Wellness Day. The event took place on Friday the 18th of November 2016 at the Royal Agricultural Show Grounds in Pietermaritzburg. Provincial departments were represented including Public Works. The key objectives covered by the event were to encourage employees to live a more sustainable and healthier lifestyle as well as to commemorate the International Red Ribbon month by raising awareness and supporting people living with HIV and AIDS.
The first share of the programme was by Mr Mzwandile Gumede, the Director for Employee Health and Wellness at the Office of the Premier who welcomed the guests and gave introductory remarks which after a motivational speech from Mr Leon Grove, who addressed the audience which was treated to a healthy breakfast during registration. Leon highlighted effective ways in developing and improving employee health and wellness and encouraged the audience to restore balance in their lives by having a positive mind set, staying active and healthy, strong positive memories and taking care of one’s financial wellbeing.
International Red Ribbon Month was commemorated by the donation of the “Solidari-Tree” to the Office of the Premier. This initiative was the sole idea of Miss Michelle Vogelzang, who then gathered a variety of young artists to make this special tree. 130 children in and around South Africa were tasked to paper marche the whole tree. The project aids in tackling issues that contribute to the HIV and AIDS epidemic such as stigma and discrimination. Vogelzang, invited all the guests at the event to write messages of hope on a piece of paper, that were then folded into the AIDS symbols and added onto the tree, as the leaves of the tree.
Mr Vusi Masinga, Public Works’ Employee Health Wellness Practitioner, hanging his message of hope and
Miss Zethembiso Mthuli - Finance (CFO) Accounting Clerk - and Miss Nombuso Khumalo - Internal Audit & Risk Management – also from Public Works, hanging their message of hope on the tree.
In raising awareness and supporting people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS, Balindile Hlongwane, Deputy Director for Employee Health and Wellness at the Office of the Premier and Jenny Marx, Occupational Health and Safety Officer from COGTA, lead the symbolic lighting of a candle. It must be noted that the two ladies who openly disclosed their HIV status in hopes to encourage other people to come forward and disclose their statuses. The candle lit moment was then followed by a short moment of silence to remember people who have passed away or are living with the virus and those that have been left parentless due to the effects of HIV and AIDS.
As the programme continued, Mr Chris Sauer from the GEMS’ Fraud, Waste and Abuse component tackled issues that they are continuously faced with as a medical scheme and emphasised zero tolerance of non-compliance on GEMS policies. Thenjiwe, another representative from GEMS introduced and elaborated on the GEMS Workplace Fitness Programme. She encouraged the audience to enrol for the programme, highlighted its benefits and success which has already enrolled 28 000 people to the programme to date.
After all the speakers have concluded, the second part of the programme was an initiative to encourage employees to take necessary measures to sustain a healthier lifestyle hereafter GEMS Fitness introduced two fitness instructors, Ms Ntombenhle Mavundla and Ms Thando Dlamini to lead the fitness activities. Public Works employees were very enthusiastic and participated with high spirits in all the fitness activities. GEMS also went an extra mile to set up stalls which served different purposes such as: HIV testing and counselling, BMI (Body Mass Index) and Blood Pressure testing as well as massages for shoulders and the upper neck.
Department of Public Works members exercising during the fitness activities.
Mrs Jabu Gcabashe Maphanga, the Supply Chain Senior Administration Officer (right) getting herself a check-up at GEMS stall
The event was a success as it promoted a comprehensive “Wellness” to all employees present. Employee Health Wellness within Public Works strives to enrich the lives of employees by providing opportunities for workers to access a variety of tests such as Body Mass Index (BMI), Blood Pressure, Glucose, Cholesterol and HIV testing and counselling. The Department’s Employee Health and Wellness further assists by providing means of wellness support which is a comprehensive package of the physical, psychological and emotional well-being. The Public Works Employee Health Wellness team deserve to be commended in raising awareness to employees and taking the initiative to directly and indirectly equip and encourage employees to take an active stand in their lives. This is a tremendous gain for Public Works employees as it not only impacts one’s job satisfaction but in an individual’s personal life as well.