National HIV and Aids trucking partnership extended in the Western Cape
May 13, 2011
Epping, Cape Town – More than five million South Africans fight a daily battle against HIV and Aids, with an exponential domino effect on the stability of communities and the robustness of the economy. The trilateral partnership between Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA), South African Business Coalition on HIV and Aids (SABCOHA) and Trucking Wellness has launched the twentieth Trucking Wellness Centre to fight the spread of the disease amongst truck drivers.
The centre was officially opened by Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, who expressed his delight at the success of the project, saying that the wellness centres should be expanded to encompass all major trucking routes.
Minister Motsoaledi says: ‘We are fully aware of the dangers that long distance truck drivers are exposed to as a result of being away from their spouses for longer periods. It becomes important therefore that we provide them with primary healthcare services including counselling as part of minimising their risks of getting STIs (including HIV) and in turn put their spouses at risk.”
He adds: “This Centre puts us on a new course in the delivery of primary healthcare and prevention of HIV. I commend the South African Business Coalition on HIV and Aids and Mercedes-Benz SA for working with us in this regard.”
Located along a major trucking route, the Epping wellness centre was chosen due to its high volumes of trucking activity. As with the other 19 centres already established on routes across the nation, Epping becomes an ideal hub to reach long-distance truck drivers, women at risk as well as communities in the area. The aim of the centres is to raise awareness and advocate testing, prevention and treatment of HIV and Aids.
MBSA, a major manufacturer and distributor of passenger cars and commercial vehicles, has a long-standing commitment to fighting HIV and Aids. The company’s Workplace Programme recently celebrated a decade of successfully decreasing the infection rate amongst its employees. The current rate of 8% is less than half of the national rate, with a 95% testing uptake and 40% of employees re-testing annually. Of the HIV positive employees, MBSA has a five-year survival rate of 95% and a ten-year survival rate of 89% due to the vigour this programme.
As an example of best practice sharing, the company funds the Siyakhana Project to expand the reach of this successful workplace model to small and medium enterprises in the Eastern Cape where it has its manufacturing plant. Siyakhana is also replicated to reach 12 government clinics in the East London area.
Around 40% of MBSA’s corporate social investment portfolio focuses on HIV and Aids projects. The company has funded R3,58 million over a three-year period, which will be administered by SABCOHA for the running and further expansion of the Trucking Wellness Programme.
SABCOHA has been instrumental in the co-ordination of private sector response to HIV and Aids, striving to assist businesses with workplace initiatives through sharing of best practice models, pioneering new initiatives and lobbying for change.
Brad Mears, CEO of the South African Business Coalition on HIV & Aids (SABCOHA) says: “The launch of this Trucking Wellness Centre at Epping today shows a totally unique programme that brings together a multiplicity of partners to effectively address the impact of HIV and Aids in the trucking sector, as well as other high risk groups, such as women and sex workers, including the broader community around the trucking centre.”
He adds, “The partnership between SABCOHA, MBSA, the Department of Health, the Department of Transport, the Bargaining Council and importantly Trucking Wellness, cements the long standing relationships and commitment to come together and provide meaningful access to services and facilities that help mitigate the effects of HIV and Aids in the trucking sector.”
SABCOHA has played an integral role in the Trucking Wellness initiative by providing project management and co-ordination services at both a national and international level in order to bring greater awareness to activities within the trucking and transport sector.
The organization has further strengthened the sectoral initiatives by providing technical support through monitoring and evaluation expertise for the project, data reporting at provincial level, as well as creating the necessary platforms for engagement and collaboration through its partnership with government and other key stakeholders.
Implementation agents, Trucking Wellness, believe this programme proves the exceptional outcomes that can be achieved through collaboration. Factors such as effective use of resources, sharing of knowledge and best practice, economies of scale and leveraging of networks will lead to a more economically resilient and sustainable road freight industry.
Vice President for Commercial Vehicles at Mercedes-Benz South Africa, Kobus van Zyl says: “With the ongoing support of everyone involved at the Trucking Wellness project, from the care givers to the co-ordinators and managers, this project will continue to grow as a model for others to follow. This launch, I believe, will be replicated many times over in the coming years, as we continue to expand the network of Trucking Wellness centres and the number of beneficiaries whose lives we can change.”
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