Congratulations to Paul Matthew, North Star Alliance regional director of Southern Africa, on being awarded the Dira Sengwe Leadership in AIDS award at the 7th South African Aids Conference held in Durban recently.
The conference is South Africa’s largest gathering of HIV researchers, policymakers, activists and people living with HIV. Each year, the prestigious award goes to an individual or organisation that has made an extraordinary contribution in the fight against HIV/AIDS through work in human rights, treatment, research and development or access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Dira Sengwe – meaning ‘Take Action’ – is the South African based NGO behind the SA AIDS conference. When it comes to leadership in the field, the board became aware that there are numerous people and groups doing excellent work under challenging circumstances that were relatively unknown and unrewarded. It was then decided to institute the leadership award to recognise exceptional contributions by individuals or organisations in the country in the response to the HIV epidemic.
Professor Hoosen Coovadia, who presented the award to Matthew, says that not only is the impact of the work a key criteria for the award but so too the bravery required. He went on to say that AIDS was not a medical epidemic but rather a social, political and cultural epidemic and therefore bravery was required to confront this.
Commenting on the award, Matthew said leadership is nothing without people. “While it is an honour to be recognised through this award as an individual, from my point of view the achievements are only possible through the collective efforts of the North Star Alliance team,” he said.
North Star Alliance was launched in response to the growing impact of HIV and other communicable diseases on mobile populations. “We use converted shipping containers painted blue to house clinics that deliver public health programmes for people with increased health risks – like truck drivers and sex workers – as well as primary health care to communities with limited or no access to medical services,” says Matthew.
Since 2007, the organisation has grown from one clinic with 5 000 visitors to a network reaching over 230 000 people in 12 countries every year. Each drop-in clinic is run by trained clinical and outreach teams and supported by North Star’s electronic health passport system, which allows patients to access their health records at every clinic within network. North Star works with more than 70 partners from the private, public and humanitarian sector to achieve our goals
FleetWatch extends its heartiest congratulations to Paul Matthew – and through him to his team – on this achievement. As we in the industry all know, HIV/AIDS hit the trucking industry hard and it is through the efforts of organisations like North Star Alliance – as well as Trucking Wellness – that the spread of HIV/AIDS was not worse than it could have been. We lift our hats to you!