New guidelines are in place to improve access to health care along road transport corridors, targeting long distance truck drivers, sex workers and communities living along these corridors in the region.
This initiative has been led by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), a regional body tasked with harmonizing policies to achieve economic development, peace and security and enhance the standard and quality of life of the people of Southern Africa.
While the region has seen an increase in trade, commerce and regional infrastructure, increased mobility and cross-border trading are also significant drivers in the transmission of communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Acting on their commitment to member states, SADC, in collaboration with Ministers responsible for Health and Transport, approved the Regional Minimum Standards and Brand for HIV and other Health Services along the Road Transport Corridors in the SADC Region (RMSB) in November 2015.
“This was a collaborative effort,” says Dr Alphonse Mulumba, Program Officer for HIV and AIDS Research at SADC. “We call on all member states to adopt the RMSB and urge partners to support implementation to improve the prevention and treatment of HIV, sexually transmitted infections and other important health conditions including malaria, tuberculosis, hypertension and diabetes for long distance truck drivers and sex workers.”
The standards are the result of a highly consultative process involving key stakeholders and technical experts from SADC member states, development partners, United Nations agencies, key transport sector stakeholders such as FESARTA, North Star Alliance, Corridor Empowerment Project (Trucking Wellness) and Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBGC), worker groups, and regional and national associations of sex workers (SW).
Catalytic technical and financial support was provided in partnership by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Africa Bureau’s project, African Strategies for Health (ASH) and USAID’s Regional HIV/AIDS Programme and their project, Building Local Capacity for Delivery of HIV Services in Southern Africa (BLC), both implemented by Management Sciences for Health.
FleetWatch lifts its hat to all involved in this project. Driver health is critical not only to the well-being of the individual but also to the well-being of the trucking industry as a whole and therefore the development of the region as an economic powerhouse.