As more and more people cross borders for work, recreation and safety, the risk of disease spreading from country to country, and within countries, grows. In sub-Saharan Africa, studies show that people on the move, like truck drivers, play a pivotal role in the spread of disease and their health is intertwined with that of sex workers and other people living in remote roadside communit...
As more and more people cross borders for work, recreation and safety, the risk of disease spreading from country to country, and within countries, grows. In sub-Saharan Africa, studies show that people on the move, like truck drivers, play a pivotal role in the spread of disease and their health is intertwined with that of sex workers and other people living in remote roadside communities.
These groups of people; truck drivers, male and female sex workers, mine workers, seasonal workers, and the communities seeking opportunity around areas frequented by mobile workers, are included by UNAIDS in their 90:90:90 Fast-Track strategy to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
Beyond the reach of traditional health systems and away from home for extended periods, these population groups are more vulnerable to illness and more likely to take health risks. Playing a key role in transmitting disease between communities and across borders, and with their mobility impacting their ability to access health services, we thought: if they can’t get to healthcare, then healthcare needs to get to them.
Our “Blue Box” approach breaks down the social barriers of traditional health clinics, providing mobile populations with primary healthcare services from Blue Box clinics. Located at ‘hotspots’ like border posts, transit towns or ports where large numbers of trucks stop, load and offload, and where sex work and informal trades flourish, our Blue Boxes keep flexible hours, tailored to the needs of our target populations.
Each clinic’s well-trained local clinical and outreach teams participate in quality and performance monitoring, meaning we can provide continuously relevant services at optimal locations, all the while building capacity in local communities.
Responsive to the specific needs of our client groups, our health service package is comprehensive. Our clinicians provide general health check-ups, treatment for a range of diseases including malaria, sexually transmitted infections, counselling and testing for HIV, anti-retroviral treatment and referrals, condoms and information on topics including tuberculosis, hypertension, diabetes and positive gender relations.
Our outreach teams use the Blue Boxes as hubs for disseminating public health information to surrounding communities. Working with a range of government, corporate and civil society partners, we recruit and train truck drivers, sex workers and members of the local community to promote HIV and sexual reproductive health and rights awareness and prevention to their peers.
Our pioneering model provides an affordable and effective solution for bringing primary healthcare and HIV intervention to mobile workers and the communities they interact with.
With innovation at our roots, we constantly assess our services and invest in ways to improve our capacity to deliver them. Early on, we recognised that for continuity of care our clients needed the ability to access their medical records across borders. Together with our partner ORTEC, we developed COMETS, a clinical administration system allowing patients to access their health records at every clinic across our network.
The addition of Blue Box laboratories increases the efficiency and efficacy of diagnoses by our clinicians and strengthens the health services available to remote communities.
We know that a “Blue Box” can’t solve all the health challenges facing our clients, but we’ve been amazed to discover how much of a difference it can make. As we continue to expand our network across Africa, we invite you to follow our story and join us in thinking outside of the box, and inside a blue one.
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