Several months ago we published a series here called ‘The Longest Road’. It was about the creation of 'wellness centres' along transport corridors in Southern Africa in an effort to reduce the impact of AIDS on the transport sector. WFP Logistics in DR Congo initiated the “Transporting Hope” project in 2009, and today, are celebrating the opening of the first wellness clinic in Lukala on the Matadi/Kinshasa corridor, established in collaboration with the North Star Alliance who manages the wellness clinics programme throughout Africa.
In addition to the HIV /AIDS prevention campaigns addressed to transporters, the Transporting Hope programme is now creating an interconnected “Wellness Clinics” network on the most vulnerable hotspots, which provide mobile transport workers basic health care and services such as HIV testing and medical treatment. That is, medical units set-up on hotspots along corridors that provide transporters, sex workers and merchants with a free complete medical response, including testing and treatment for HIV, TB, malaria and hypertension follow-up. These services are also offered at night, from 4PM to 11PM.
The strong support of the Provincial Health & Transport Ministries has been crucial to its success and its implementation in partnership with AMO-CONGO, a national NGO well known for its fight against HIV in DRC. The second clinic will open in Bukavu before the end of the year under the same support.
The goal for 2011 is to develop the first African Wellness Clinics network on the River Sector, with two clinics planned, in Mbandaka and in Lisala, in order to provide boat crew and travellers with the same medical service.