At North Star Alliance, our mission is to provide mobile populations and related communities with sustainable access to high quality health services.
North Star Alliance grew out of the groundbreaking partnership between TNT and the United Nations World Food Progamme (WFP). While the primary focus of the partnership was hunger, the issue of health and mobility came to their attention during the 2003-2005 Southern Africa food crisis when WFP struggled to find sufficient numbers of truck drivers to deliver relief food to hungry communities.
At the same time, TNT had committed itself to responsibly address the negative impact of AIDS-related diseases within the transport sector. Similarly, research by WFP indicated that some transport companies had already lost over 50% of their drivers, and that an entire generation of truck drivers was at risk. By joining forces to tackle a common problem, the commercial and humanitarian transport sectors took the first step on the road to potentially change the course of public health for mobile populations.
Although HIV and AIDS fell outside the scope of their partnership, WFP and TNT realised that both organisations’ core activities relied on a healthy and vibrant transport sector. To address this, they decided to set up a separate pilot programme involving the establishment of a roadside drop-in clinic at the Mwanza border crossing in Malawi. While both partners were inspired by the success of this project, it was clear that this was not an isolated issue. The transport links in the supply chains of private and humanitarian organisations across the continent were at risk and similar clinics would have to be located along major transport corridors across Africa to have significant impact on public health. With this ambitious goal in mind, North Star was founded on 29 September 2006 as a non-profit organisation with the purpose of establishing a network of clinics that cover and connect the continent.
In 2007, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) joined forces with North Star, alongside TNT Express and WFP, to build the network of RWCs by targeting border crossings, ports and truck stops. In 2008, the network grew into East Africa and, in 2009, North Star was joined by ORTEC, one of the largest providers of advanced planning and optimisation software. ORTEC had already been instrumental in designing North Star’s Corridor Medical Transfer System (COMETS), which made it possible for patients to access their personal healthcare information at any RWC in the network.
In 2011, North Star began expanding its network into West Africa. To support this expansion, North Star brought the PharmAccess Foundation on board as a sixth core partner to assist in evaluating and scaling up North Star’s medical infrastructure and standard operating procedures.