Road­side health cen­tre will treat, in­form truck­ers

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - WEEK­END AR­GUS REPORTER

TRUCK­ERS, one of the high­est risk groups in South Africa when it comes to HIV and Aids, are in the spot­light thanks to an oil com­pany which has be­gun in­vest­ing in road­side health cen­tres.

Chevron has joined forces with Dutch NGO North Star Al­liance to cre­ate a road­side cen­tre on the North­South Cor­ri­dor, one of the coun­try’s busiest truck­ing routes.

The cen­tre, at Cato Ridge in Kwazulu-na­tal, will pro­vide pri­mary health­care for truck­ers in­clud­ing treat­ment and in­for­ma­tion on sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases, con­dom dis­tri­bu­tion, di­a­betes, high blood pres­sure test­ing and even eye tests.

Mi­randa An­thony, the com­pany’s so­cial in­vest­ment man­ager, said many trans­port work­ers, sex work­ers and mo­bile com­mu­ni­ties did not en­joy ac­cess to ad­e­quate health­care, in spite of the fact that they were re­garded as the most at- risk cat­e­gories in terms of HIV/ Aids and other sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases.

Some stud­ies have shown that up to 56 per­cent of South Africa’s truck driv­ers are Hiv-pos­i­tive. There are about 35 000 truck driv­ers on the coun­try’s roads.

Truck­ers are con­sid­ered high risk be­cause they move be­tween sta­ble com­mu­ni­ties and are of­ten as­so­ci­ated with sex work­ers, an­other ex­tremely high-risk group.

Sev­eral sim­i­lar clin­ics have been set up by pri­vate com­pa­nies.

Ear­lier this year, Health Min­is­ter Aaron Mot­soaledi launched a sim­i­lar con­cept, spon­sored by MercedesBenz, in Ep­ping.

At the launch he said his vi­sion was to see all ma­jor roads and routes “cov­ered by this in­ter­ven­tion and also that we en­sure that we work with our neigh­bours in the SADC (South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity)”.

Ear­lier this year the Kwazu­luNatal health depart­ment said the com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor in the seven districts with a high HIV preva­lence of more than 40 per­cent, was that all the com­mu­ni­ties were close to the N2 and N3 high­ways – both ma­jor truck­ing routes into and out of the prov­ince.

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