July 22, 2011
HIV prevention activities along southern African transportation routes are getting a boost thanks to a five-year grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
North Star Alliance has signed an agreement with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to deliver cross-border prevention services to at-risk communities. The partnership plans to roll out 29 mobile health clinics, which will offer basic health services, STD treatment, HIV counseling and testing, condom distribution and referrals to other facilities when needed.
"North Star is an international [nongovernmental organization] that uses best practices in supply chain management, innovations in network technology and inside knowledge of the transport industry to support a network of roadside wellness centers," said Doreen Sanje, a technical adviser to SADC. "These provide basic health care, HIV- and [STD]-related prevention and treatment services and referrals to district and local health facilities for long-haul truck drivers, sex workers, mobile populations and communities."
"An important service will be behaviors to implement change -- communication strategies that will encourage and support people to adopt healthier lifestyles and safe-sex practices, such as consistent condom use, knowing their HIV status and reducing the number of sexual partners," said Michael Becker, general manager from North Stars Durban office, who will run the project.
Statistical data on HIV and STD incidence will be gathered, and the project will track trends and emerging disease patterns across the region for research purposes. An encrypted system will allow patients to access their confidential records anywhere in the North Star network.
Benefitting countries include: Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.