All of us at North Star Alliance are excited to announce that we’ve signed an agreement with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to gear up cross-border HIV prevention activities over the next five years with a grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
As part of this initiative, we will be rolling out a fleet of mobile clinics – “Wellness Centres” – that will provide basic health services along with HIV prevention, STI treatment, HIV counselling and testing, condom distribution, and referrals to community health facilities when required.
“The project will have a multi-country approach aimed at providing border communities and mobile populations in resource-challenged areas with access to STI treatment and HIV prevention, to put the brakes on the epidemic in the region”, says Paul Matthew, Director for North Star Alliance Africa.
The Technical Adviser for SADC, Doreen Sanje, is enthusiastic about the new venture.
“We are very excited about launching this important initiative that will have a positive impact on the health and well-being of the entire Southern African region. The selection of North Star Alliance was determined through a highly competitive process and we look forward to working with their team to deliver significant results.”
The project will establish and sustain 29 vehicle-based mobile clinics operated by qualified medical staff.
“The project activities are not intended to replace or compete with country-specific national strategies, but they aim to improve the coherence and effectiveness of the regional response to HIV by reducing the number of infections. Through a focused approach to health service delivery, we hope to contribute to mitigating the impact of AIDS on mobile populations and affected communities in the region,” says Matthew.
The project will be managed from our Southern African Regional Office in Durban, South Africa, under the supervision of General Manager, Michael Becker. “One of the important services will be the implementation of behaviour change communication (BCC) strategies that will encourage and support people to adopt healthier lifestyles and safer sex practices such as consistent condom use, knowing their HIV status, and reducing the number of sexual partners,” says Michael Becker.
“North Star was awarded this project based on our expertise and experience, as we already have established a network of container-based Roadside Wellness Centres and staff in a number of countries throughout southern Africa,” continues Paul Matthew. “We see this project as a coordinated response to widen the geographic availability of prevention and treatment services to those who have been missing out. Ultimately, we hope it contributes to the reduction of new HIV infections and slows the transmission of other communicable diseases.”
The countries that stand to benefit from the project include Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The project will enable the gathering of statistical information and data on HIV and STI incidence, and track trends and emerging disease patterns across the region for research purposes. This will be achieved through COMETS (Corridor Medical Transfer System), the North Star electronic database and Information Technology platform. The encrypted system also allows individuals to access their confidential records anywhere in the North Star network.