Wellness practitioners in Botswana met in Gaborone on Thursday to brainstorm on the modalities of forming a body that would oversee the running of their profession.
The workshop, which was held at the Tshedisa Institute, attracted many representatives from various organizations, government departments and independent practitioners in the country.
In attendance was the Board member of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association of South Africa (EAPA), Ms Radhi Vandayar, who shared with the participants the importance and benefits of the association. EAPA is an international association for professionals in the field of employee assistance programmes and currently operates in 35 countries globally with Headquarters in the USA.
The Director of Health in the Ministry of Health, Sheenaz El-Halabi, addressed the participants and emphasized the importance of bringing together local stakeholders currently working within the workplace wellness industry and gave the meeting her Ministry’s blessings.
“We welcome this opportunity to share ideas in order to promote a vision of health that is comprehensive, holistic and focuses on establishing mechanisms to generate a healthy workplace,” El-Halabi said in her welcoming remarks.
She also said the rapid pace and unparallel degree of change within the workforce globally and within Botswana, underscores the importance of employee assistance programs that will improve education, training and the development of wellness industry professionals across a wide variety of fields.
El-Halabi said never before in the history of Botswana has there been such an urgent need to address and protect the wellness of the population.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Standard on the sidelines of the workshop, Vandayar said her association is looking forward to forging ties with local practitioners to develop the industry here.
She underscored the importance of forming an association in Botswana that could be affiliated to EAPA South Africa or, better still, be registered as Botswana branch of EAPA International.
She said the objectives of EAPA are to develop the wellness industry and set best practices in the profession through EAPA code of ethics.
The association has created a working document, which is reviewed regularly and revised by the Ethics Committee, which establishes a code of conduct and a set of ethical standards.
Vandayar, who sat in the interview with Director of 60 Corporate Wellness Solutions, Ms Ondine Jones Adams, said wellness practitioners are shooting themselves in the foot by not forming a regulatory body that could give them the platform to interact and share ideas. She said the formation of an association will be helpful in the sense that practitioners can complement each other as they will bring different expertise from different fields within the wellness industry.
For her part, Jones Adams said the formation of such a body would assist in curbing the emergence of bogus practitioners in the country.
The two ladies emphasized the need for employers to ensure the wellness of employees in the workplace. They said contrary to what many people think, wellness is not only limited to physical wellbeing but includes other aspects like financial, spiritual and social wellbeing of the employees.
Vandayar pointed out that employees work to their optimal level when their state of mind is stable. She said emotional stress can be caused by bereavement or divorces in the family and employers must have professionals who can deal with the affected employees if they want to maintain productivity in the workplace.
She added that it was encouraging to have the Director of Health in Botswana buying into the idea. She gave an example of the success stories they have had in South Africa through EAPA where the Gauteng Provincial government scooped first prize in the Best Wellness Program at the international awards ceremony held in the USA some two years ago.
The Gauteng Provincial government alone employs a staggering 140 000 people and it won the prestigious award for an outstanding performance in terms of scale and quality of their wellness programs. She said this should be a motivating factor to government departments in Botswana.
Jones Adams said they have nominated a steering committee of 8 practitioners, some from government departments, to oversee the formation of the Botswana chapter of EAPA. She called on all wellness practitioners to come forth and be part of this association.
Those interested in being part of the association should write to: [email protected]