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337 0 May 11, 2017

Chronic Diseases and Workplace Wellness

With the international trend towards wellness in the workplace, companies are starting to take employee wellness more seriously and seeing the benefits in reduction of absenteeism and improved morale. Here in Namibia, employees are feeling the difference. With World Multiple Sclerosis Day coming up on the 31st of May, 99FM’s MYD Smart spoke to the Founder & Project Manager at Multiple Sclerosis Namibia (MS Namibia), Bianca Özcan and Cecile Fouche, Human Capital and Employee Wellness Consultant at Standard Bank Namibia, about the employers responsibilities towards employees when talking a chronic disease such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Bianca is not only the founder of MS Namibia but also, as someone who has Multiple Sclerosis, has also experienced working for a company that places wellness at the forefront of engagement with staff.

“I was an employee at FNB Namibia, and have Multiple Sclerosis. The amount of care I received whilst in the employ of FNB Namibia, it’s a great company to work for, irrespective of your disability. Personally I think that the banks are looking after their employees well through their dedicated wellness programs and a healthy employee is a healthy business.”

In preparation for World MS Day, Bianca has partnered with three Namibian banks that will be participating in the day. When asked why Bianca approached the banking sector to assist her with her World MS plans in Namibia, she notes, “I was an employee at FNB Namibia, and have Multiple Sclerosis. The amount of care I received whilst in the employ of FNB Namibia, it’s a great company to work for, irrespective of your disability. Personally I think that the banks are looking after their employees well through their dedicated wellness programs and a healthy employee is a healthy business.”

“According to the World Health Organisation, ‘The workplace directly influences the physical, mental, economic and social well-being of workers and in turn the health of their families, communities and society.’ Preserving and promoting healthy workplaces will not only benefit a business itself, but also improve the lives of everyone involved.”

In addition to FNB Namibia joining in to support World MS Day, Bank Windhoek and Standard Bank Namibia have also partnered with MS Namibia to share in a day of education and support for those living with MS. According to Cecile Fouche at Standard Bank Namibia, “The health of employees is fundamentally important to have a successful and productive workplace.  Healthy employees equal happy employees and happy employees equals happy customers.  According to the World Health Organisation, ‘The workplace directly influences the physical, mental, economic and social well-being of workers and in turn the health of their families, communities and society.’ Preserving and promoting healthy workplaces will not only benefit a business itself, but also improve the lives of everyone involved.”

“Many people know little about MS, or may have misconceptions about the condition, and employers are not exception. Employers may believe that employing somebody with MS will be costly and this might damage their business, however, many people with MS do not need special arrangements. Since MS affects people in different ways, it is important that your employer is aware of your specific needs.”

World MS Day, Bianca explains “is the global campaign to raise awareness of MS, led by MSIF (Multiple Sclerosis International Federation). It brings the global MS community together to share stories, raise awareness and campaign with and for everyone affected by multiple sclerosis.”

Bianca notes that, “Many people know little about MS, or may have misconceptions about the condition, and employers are not exception. Employers may believe that employing somebody with MS will be costly and this might damage their business, however, many people with MS do not need special arrangements. Since MS affects people in different ways, it is important that your employer is aware of your specific needs.”

MS is an autoimmune disease that affects people differently depending on the location of affected nerve fibers. The disease is typically a progressive disease that causes damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

“Fatigue is one of the biggest reasons people leave their employment. It is not easy for others to appreciate for example, that fatigue is not the same as tiredness.”

Bianca notes that MS is known as the “invisible illness” and this results in misunderstandings around the disease. “Fatigue is one of the biggest reasons people leave their employment. It is not easy for others to appreciate for example, that fatigue is not the same as tiredness, or to understand the effects of poor coordination, or the need to get to a toilet quickly.  There are often minor workplace adjustments that can help with all these symptoms.”

Bianca explains that, “MS Namibia is a registered welfare organisation established in July 2007.  Our main aim and objectives are to raise awareness about MS, educate the public accordingly and to provide care and support to Namibians suffering from MS.”

According to Bianca, care and understanding go a long way in supporting a person living with MS and open dialogue can assist an employee living with MS to better be able to flourish in the workplace. Cecile Fouche adds a challenge to all Namibian companies, “Creating awareness is something each of us is committed to, and can act on today. All companies in Namibia should show their support.”

For more information about MS Namibia take a look at their website by clicking here or send an email to info@msnamibia.org

For more information about World MS Day and this years theme of “Life with MS’, click here

 

Written by Kirsty Watermeyer

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Contact 99FM

Contact the 99FM Team for more information about your favorite radio station or to simply provide us with feedback!

Address:
44 Hyper Motor City Centre, Maxwell Street, Windhoek

Telephone Number
+264 (61) 383 450

Studio Number
+264 (0)61 383 484