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North Star Alliance and ORTEC join forces logo21 December 2009

ORTEC, the leading advanced planning and optimization solution company, announced that it has formed an alliance with North Star. North Star is an initiative of the commercial, public and humanitarian transport sector.

This partnership is part of ORTEC’s Social Responsibility & Sustainability Programme. “We hope to contribute to North Star by optimization of their logistical processes”, says Geerhard de Vries of ORTEC. As part of their Programme North Star has been establishing a network of drop-in health clinics, called Wellness Centers, at truck stops, ports, rail junctions and border crossings in low-income countries such as Africa. The Wellness Centers offer information and healthcare to transport workers, who are often unable to access conventional community or in-company-based health services due to their itinerant working conditions.

“These Wellness Centers are not only providing healthcare, eventually we also aim to offer truckers a ‘home’. A place where they can sleep, take a shower or simply relax and watch television”, says North Star Executive Director Luke Disney.

Electronic health passport system
For the Wellness Centers in Africa, North Star’s partner ORTEC has developed a registration system free of charge, which creates an electronic file for each client. This information is exchanged between the various centers, allowing treatments to be continued at different locations. “We are very pleased with the development of the application”, says Luke Disney. “A proprietary electronic health passport system allows treatment information to ‘travel’ with patients while enhancing service monitoring and evaluation capability. Furthermore, the exchange of information between the centers allows drivers to continue working while being treated for HIV and other illnesses, such as malaria and tuberculosis. This safeguards their income so they can continue to provide for their families.”

A number of Wellness Centers are currently using a stand-alone version of the registration system. At the same time ORTEC is already busy with the development of the next release, which will support the exchange of data between the Wellness Centers. This release will be available in the end of 2009.

Today, approximately 30 million people around the world are infected with the HIV virus, of whom 75% live in Africa. Many more are suffering from other sexually transmitted infections (STI). Transport workers – like other mobile populations isolated from their homes, families and communities – are more likely to engage in high-risk activities, such as having unprotected sex with multiple partners. In doing so, they put themselves and the communities with which they interact in danger of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Luke Disney. “The primary goal of North Star is to deliver frontline prevention and treatment services to transporters, sex workers and corridor communities. Each clinic sees on average 35-50 clients a day for HIV and STI prevention, reproductive health and nutrition education, STI and malaria treatment, HIV testing, and medical referrals.”

In three years, North Star has seen almost 70,000 truckers, sex workers and truck-stop community members visit our clinics with an estimated 300,000 indirectly benefiting form their services. By 2015, North Star aims to provide access to health care to 85% of cross-border traffic in sub-Saharan Africa impacting over 1 million people. The clinics are conveniently located and open in the evenings when mobile workers have time to seek health services and sex workers are most active.

About North Star Alliance

  • As of 1 December 2009 North Star changed its name from North Star Foundation to North Star Alliance. The change reflects the growing number of organizations joining the industry-driven public-private partnership addressing the problem of health and mobility in resource-constrained settings.
  • Founded in 2006 by TNT with support from the United Nations World Food Program
  • Supported by the joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the Federation of East and Southern Africa Road Transport Associations (FESARTA)
  • Establishes a network of roadside health clinics in Africa, India and Asia
  • Offers a full range of services related to the establishment and running of those clinics
  • Partnership with ORTEC started in 2008
  • At the end of 2009 North Star plans to run 12 to 15 clinics in Africa
  • By 2015, North Star aims to provide access to health care to 85% of cross-border traffic in sub-Saharan Africa impacting over 1 million people