South Africa’s automotive industry will be acknowledged as a global leader in the area of HIV/AIDS at the Global Business Coalition’s Business Action on Health Awards in New York tomorrow  (June 2).

An innovative supply chain wellness programme implemented by the Ford Struandale Engine Plant in partnership with the Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) and AWiSA (AIDS Prevention and Health Promotion Workplace Programs in Southern Africa) in Port Elizabeth has been named among the best-in-class private sector programmes from across the globe.

Friederike Baasner-Weihs, from the AIDC, will be receiving the prize at the awards along with Jeff Nemeth, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA). The high-profile event will be attended by Ted Turner, George Soros, as well as Gordon and Sarah Brown among 500 corporate executives, heads of state, policymakers, civil society visionaries and media personalities on June 2.

AIDC’s International Expert Martin Weihs, who manages the Ford-AIDC-AWiSA programme, said the award was highly significant.

“It certainly puts the spotlight on our achievements as an industry in South Africa, creates a platform for deeper networks and generates energy and resources for the extension of this initiative throughout the country’s manufacturing and general business community,“ Weihs said.

The 2011 Business Action on Health Awards received the largest number of entries to date, representing the most diverse and strongest submissions in the award’s history. In addition to the six winning companies, GBC commended several companies, including the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa-AIDC-AWiSA partnership, in six award categories for their outstanding programs.

In the Partnership/Collective Action Category the Ford-AIDC-AWiSA Programme received the second prize and was named alongside Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold and Novartis Pharma AG as Commended Companies or Programmes.

“This award proves how incredibly powerful a wellness programme can be when implemented in partnership with an organisation such as the AIDC, and we are very proud of what has been achieved by every member of the team,” commented Jeff Nemeth, president and CEO of FMCSA.

“The partnership and wellness programme has won numerous awards in recent years, and this only serves to provide additional motivation for Ford and the AIDC to roll it out further and faster to a wider group of companies and the broader community. It reflects Ford’s global strategy of producing better vehicles, building a stronger company and creating a better world.”

Tjipo Mothobi-Tshaka of GBC South Africa said the program exemplifies the powerful impact the private sector is making on global health. “GBC is honoured to give recognition to this leadership.”

“The 38 finalists represent exceptional programs in each awards category, combining solid intervention design, strong commitment to achieving results and a focus on long-term sustainability. The 2011 finalists span five continents and myriad industries. Their programs address HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria alongside a range of other urgent health issues including nutrition, diabetes, reproductive health, comprehensive wellness, access to services and health education,” he said.

All finalists underwent a rigorous assessment phase by GBC’s external panel of expert judges, from which one winner and one to three commended companies were chosen to be honoured.

Weihs said benefits of the commendation by GBC, included its support with additional internal communications to stakeholders, profiling among GBC government, donor and NGO partners and profiling opportunities through numerous GBC channels.