First West African Roadside Wellness Centre Opens in The Gambia

In 2006, we set out to stop the spread of disease along Africa’s transport corridors. Since then we’ve built a network of 28 roadside health clinics in 13 East and Southern African countries that deliver life-saving prevention, testing, and treatment services to a growing number of mobile workers, sex workers, and corridor community members.

Today, on World AIDS Day, we are excited to officially open our first West African Roadside Wellness Centre (RWC) in Farafenni, The Gambia. Through generous support from a group of dedicated partners, this clinic will extend and strengthen national and regional health programmes by delivering essential primary and high impact health services to mobile workers and members of the Farafenni community. By extending services to these key mobile populations in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, we will not only be taking an important step in reducing the spread of disease, but we will also be supporting the health and security of West Africa’s vital supply chains. Of course, one clinic alone cannot accomplish this.

While the Farafenni RWC will play an important role in local healthcare provision, it will also act as a regional pilot, paving the way for a network of RWCs throughout West Africa.

Today, as we celebrate the opening of the Farafenni RWC, and kick off an exciting new regional health initiative, we would like to recognise, and thank the ministries and organisations who have offered North Star their generous support and partnership. Thank you to UNAIDS, The United Nations World Food Programme, The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, TNT Express Italy, The Trafigura Foundation, AFPRC-Hospital Farafenni, The Gambian Network of Aids Service Organisations, and Enda Santé.

Farafenni, The Gambia

Truck drivers in the Gambia tend to be highly mobile and commonly spend between two weeks and a month away from home to cover domestic routes; a remarkably long period of time country that is only 500 km long and 50 km wide. Bad road conditions, poorly maintained trucks, and infrequent access to petrol exacerbate these route times further.

While domestic drivers tend to travel along a west-east route between Banjul and Basse, the Gambia is also essential in facilitating important regional routes. The north-south Trans-Gambia Highway is frequented by not only Gambian drivers, but by long-distance drivers from Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Sierra Leone, most of whom spend more than a month on the road at a time. Because the Gambia facilitates important regional transport, truck stops in transit towns like Farafenni have become particularly busy with domestic and international truck drivers.

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Photos by: Hank Coelewij

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