Today, approximately 30 million people around the world are infected with the HIV virus, of whom 75% live in Africa. Many more are suffering from other sexually transmitted infections (STI). Transport workers – like other mobile populations isolated from their homes, families and communities – are more likely to engage in high-risk activities, such as having unprotected sex with multiple partners. In doing so, they put themselves and the communities with which they interact in danger of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
North Star is an initiative of the commercial, public and humanitarian transport sector. North Star has been establishing a network of drop-in health clinics, called Wellness Centers, at truck stops, ports, rail junctions and border crossings in Africa. The Wellness Centers offer information and healthcare to transport workers, who are often unable to access conventional community or in-company-based health services due to their itinerant working conditions.
We have established a partnership with North Star as part of our Social Responsibility & Sustainability Program, “Optimizing the World”.
After successfully developing a client health registration system (COMETS), ORTEC has also delivered an application that will assist North Star Alliance in determining the optimal location and number of employees for its network of Roadside Wellness Centres (RWCs). The new solution is developed in cooperation with Paragon Decision Technology, using their mathematical optimization platform AIMMS.
According to Luke Disney, North Star Executive Director: "The delivery of this system, named POLARIS (Program for Optimizing the Long-term Achievements of the Roadside Wellness Centres Investment Strategy), enables us to select optimal Wellness Centre locations, taking into account important factors such as continuity of care and number of visitors."
Health services for mobile populations
North Star Alliance started as a practical industry response to an urgent health problem and has matured into a balanced approach that meets industry, public health and individual needs by establishing a network of drop-in health clinics, called Roadside Wellness Centres, at truck stops, ports, rail junctions and border crossings in low-income countries. The RWCs offer essential healthcare and information to mobile populations and roadside communities who are often unable to access conventional community or in-company-based health services due to their itinerant working conditions.
“ORTEC already provides invaluable support in this area with a customized client health registration system and passport system, called COMETS,” explains Luke Disney. “With POLARIS, ORTEC has developed an innovative application to help determine the optimal locations for North Star RWCs, without the need to invest a great deal of time and expense for research and data analysis. In our collaboration with ORTEC, we are always looking for ways how –in this case where – to best serve the truck drivers and the surrounding communities.” The partnership with North Star Alliance is part of ORTEC's Social Responsibility & Sustainability Program, “Optimizing the World”.
About North Star Alliance
North Star works at the crossroads of disease and mobility to ensure that highly-mobile populations, especially truck drivers and their direct and indirect contacts have access to health and safety services. North Star is strengthening national health systems by expanding their reach and plugging the gaps through a network of “Roadside Wellness Centres” (RWCs) located at hotspots along major transport corridors in sub-Saharan Africa. North Star’s unique approach unites the transport and public health sectors in a common response to high impact diseases. North Star’s RWCs are open to everyone, but designed for the specific health needs of mobile populations. They offer a focused package of prevention and treatment services, including: information, education, primary health care, treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV counselling and testing, and medical referrals.
North Star Alliance is supported by six core partners including the International Transport Workers’ Federation, ORTEC, PharmAccess Foundation, TNT, UNAIDS and the World Food Programme along with more than 60 strategic and local partners. For more information, visit: www.northstar-alliance.org