Wellness

Promoting safer driving on South African highways

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Trucking Wellness (previously known as Trucking against AIDS) is an initiative of the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI). Tertius Wessels, the project manager of the programme, was interviewed regarding Trucking Wellness and the general state of the trucking and logistics workforce in South Africa (SA).

“With the high rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence among truck drivers, they are at high risk of exposure to the virus and the implications are far reaching, impacting not only the drivers, their partners and families, but also the transport companies and ultimately, the economy as a whole. Therefore we have established 22 wellness centres nationally on all major routes covering approximately 89% of the national routes.”

Wessels explains that there has been an extremely positive uptake from the industry since the start of the programme, and awareness of the project is spreading. Drivers appreciate the assurance of professional care, confidentiality, and the provision of a safe environment where they can talk freely and ask questions without being judged or discriminated against.

He then adds that despite the existing 22 fixed wellness centres, he still believes that more can be done to help change the general health of the trucking industry. For this reason, Trucking Wellness has introduced a variety of new small, medium and large vehicles, which serve as mobile clinics and can cater for any member of the NBCRFLI. Notwithstanding the size of NBCRFLI registered companies, the project team will now actively contact them instead of waiting to be contacted for mobile clinic visits at NBCRFLI registered companies.

“Although we are now operating more proactively by actively contacting NBCRFLI registered companies for clinic visits, all services offered are still 100% voluntary and results are strictly confidential.” The mobile wellness centres, staffed by professional nurses and counsellors, travel nationally to reach any geographically located company that falls under the jurisdiction of the NBCRFLI. Vehicles are booked for ten days at a time and then service all companies within that specific region.

As a result, Trucking Wellness is able to serve more companies than ever before and continue to work towards a healthier and more vibrant trucking industry. All industry members testing positive for HIV are immediately referred to the NBCRFLI HIV treatment programme where they are treated and counselled accordingly. Wessels goes on to explain that Trucking Wellness encourages all truck drivers to eat healthily in order to have more energy while travelling long distances.

Other advice offered by Trucking Wellness nurses that is equally important is the need to keep hydrated while driving. Dehydration among truck drivers is so common because they see it as a “mission” to make a few toilet stops along the way, which results in lower levels of water consumption. That being said, their liquid intake is often half of what is recommended.

What is so important for truckers to understand is that having a lack of water in your system while driving is just as bad as driving drunk. Studies have shown that drivers make twice as many mistakes on the road when they are dehydrated, compared to when they are hydrated.

To date, Trucking Wellness has provided healthcare education to 686 211 long distance truck drivers, sex workers and community members. Over 378 338 patients have been consulted and have received various forms of treatment and care, with more than 16 million condoms distributed to these key population groups since inception.

Wessels explains: “In light of these numbers, we would like to encourage all trucking organisations to invite Trucking Wellness to attend your company Wellness Days, or any other events that you hold, so that your employees can access the services offered by Trucking Wellness.”

Media release

 

PULL QUOTE: “Studies have shown that drivers make twice as many mistakes on the road when they are dehydrated compared to when they are hydrated”



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