Paul Matthew

Ashoka Fellow
Durban, South Africa
Fellow Since 2013


This profile was prepared when Paul Matthew was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment still remain a challenge for most countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for more than 71 percent of total AIDS-related deaths in the world. More susceptible to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are mobile workers, especially truck drivers and the communities they interact with as they travel on their routes. Paul has developed a mechanism to ensure that mobile workers and related communities get easy access to treatment and prevention measures for HIV/AIDS and other STIs. Through North Star Alliance (NSA), Paul puts mobile clinics, Roadside Wellness Centers (RWCs), in strategic places called “critical hotspots.” These are typically border posts, transit towns, and ports where large numbers of trucks stop and where sex work and other informal trades flourish, exposing both the truckers and the community to STIs and other infectious diseases.

RWCs are typically made from converted shipping containers designed to the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO). Although the wellness centers are designed to provide health services and programs for mobile workers and other related vulnerable groups such as sex workers, access to services is open to everyone in the communities nearby, to ensure an all-round holistic STI treatment and prevention program. Plans to provide male circumcision and laboratory services are currently in the pipeline.

NSA’s approach is unique in that it unites the transport and public health sectors in a common response to high impact diseases, working at the crossroads of disease and mobility to ensure that highly mobile populations and their direct/indirect contacts have access to basic health services. Paul envisions a world in which mobility and dynamic workplaces do not fuel the spread of disease, sexual abuse, and human trafficking. Today, NSA operates twenty-five wellness centers in twelve countries in East, West, and Southern Africa through which healthcare is provided to 200,000+ people each year. In the next three years, Paul plans to have 100 centers throughout Africa, reaching almost 85 percent of mobile workers, and hundreds of thousands of people in communities located along the continent’s main transport routes.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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