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Keeping truckers fit

Healthcare for the trucking community is one of the core areas under Apollo Tyres Foundation’s corporate social responsibility.

Published on December 20, 2020 at 5:02 am

Updated on March 20, 2021 at 06:50 am


On a long journey.
Healthcare for the trucking community is one of the core areas under Apollo Tyres Foundation’s corporate social responsibility.
Nimmala Narasimha Rao, 62, is a truck driver with SRMT Transport at Jawahar Autonagar, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. He visited one of the screening camps of the Apollo Tyres Foundation (ATF) as he was suffering from poor vision in his left eye. This was causing him challenges in driving and started to affect his livelihood. The optometrist diagnosed cataract and referred him to one of the government hospitals where he was operated. ATF provided immense support to get him connected at the hospital for availing the service. Following the treatment, Narasimha Rao exulted over his vision and ability to continue his work.
Similar treatment was provided to Nihal Singh, another truck driver. Expressing happiness, he says, “They checked my eyes and gave me spectacles. Apollo Tyres Healthcare Centre saved my job. I am very thankful to them.”
The biggest and most inclusive initiative under the company’s CSR work is healthcare for the trucking community. 70% of the organisation’s revenues in India comes from the sale of commercial vehicle tyres. Truck drivers are not only customers but an important part of the supply chain. Truck drivers have unique health needs, and by virtue of their continuous travel, they have trouble in accessing healthcare. Unusually long working hours, long period away from home and family, difficult road and driving conditions all emerged as issues impacting truck drivers’ health.
Preventive healthcare initiative for the truck driver community is the pioneer programme runs by the organisation. The programme was started in the year 2000 for truck drivers as “Healthy Highway” in partnership with DFID at Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, New Delhi. Under this initiative, the organisation runs 31 healthcare centres in the transhipment hubs spanning across 18 Indian states. The programme provides health care services such as prevention of HIV-AIDS, vision care, integration of tuberculosis and other non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and general treatment facility. Apollo Tyres has started four mobile medical units called “Apollo Tyres Healthcare Express” to provide the healthcare facilities at the doorsteps of its customers i.e. truck drivers. The organisation also organised health camps named “Sakushal Saarthi” for the employees of its fleet owners.
Services provided under healthcare programme include awareness and prevention of HIV-AIDS, vision care, awareness on tuberculosis, non-communicable diseases like diabetics and high blood pressure and general healthcare and treatment.
Over 50% of the truck drivers in India face health problems. The healthcare centres are equipped with qualified doctors, paramedic staff, counsellor and outreach workers for awareness generation. The service provided under HIV awareness and prevention includes behaviour change communication (BCC), sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnosis and treatment, counselling, condom promotion, integrated counselling testing centre (ICTC) support and awareness through peer educators (volunteers).


Vision care being provided to a trucker.
Visual impairment in India is estimated at 62 million, of these, eight million are blind and others have low vision. Eyesight is one of the most important senses given the fact that 80% of what is perceived comes through the senses of sight. This makes the health of eyes a critical function. There is a surge in road accidents in India exhibiting rise in population and vehicles. Amongst the major causes of accidents such as infrastructure and vehicle design, there is one crucial cause that is poor eyesight. ATF introduced vision care initiative under its healthcare programme in 2015 for the trucking community in its healthcare centres, where vision testing facility is established and periodic eye care camps are organised. The major feature of this initiative is that spectacles are distributed at a low-cost rate to the people identified with refractive error issues. Cataract patients are linked with nearby hospitals for further treatment.
The risk of progressing from latent to active TB is estimated to be between 12 and 20 times greater in people living with HIV than among those without HIV infection. Truck drivers are more prone to this disease. Under this initiative, services like sputum testing, linking beneficiaries found positive with (DOTs) facility and conducting regular awareness sessions to prevent TB are offered. The organisation has partnered with The Union (USAID) for imparting awareness on TB at all the 31 healthcare centres.
Due to the nomadic lifestyle of truck drivers, there is an increase in lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Diabetes and high blood pressure were identified as two significant risks that challenge truck drivers. To address the problem, the organisation added testing facility for both the risks. Across all the healthcare centres, diabetes screening and blood pressure check-ups are conducted. Also, there are other generic treatment facilities provided at each healthcare centre such as fever, cough, cold, flu and other basic first aid features.
The organisation has reached out to over four million beneficiaries through its healthcare services. The unique features of the healthcare programme are partnership model approach for a wider outreach, peer educators for vital connecting link and presence of all health services at the doorstep.
Partnership model approach:
The organisation fosters partnership models for a wider outreach of its services. ATF has partnered with State AIDS Control Society (SACS) and government agencies for various services like HIV testing (ICTC) and training, vision screening, DOT Centre and sputum testing facility. For TB initiative, the organisation has partnered with The Union (USAID). ATF has also partnered with a few corporate houses like Ambuja Cement Foundation, Essilor Vision Foundation, Ashok Layland and others to implement the programme.
Peer educator (PE) involvement:
Given the geographical spread of the transhipment hub in a location and the migrant and mobile nature of truck drivers, PEs are the vital links to disseminate information related to Apollo Health Care Centre’s facility. PEs are not only easily accessible but they help in reaching out the target audience at the most opportune time. The programme has mobilised over 100 peer educators who provide voluntary services for the health care project across locations.

A transhipment hub.
Presence of all health services at doorstep:
In extension to static healthcare centres, mobile alternatives are provided to enhance connectivity. Mobile camps are conducted at all locations. The Apollo Tyres Healthcare Express conduct the health check of truck drivers and the allied population at locations in Delhi, Nammakkal, Tamil Nadu, Gurugram, Haryana and Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh.
Apollo Tyres is committed towards the sustainable development of the community. The CSR approach stems from the organisation’s vision statement mentioning “continuously enhancing stakeholder value”. CSR is recognised as a key strategy to manage the business and operational challenges by focusing on sustainable growth. The organisation’s CSR strategy focuses on combining corporate goals with development goal. The strategy is to enable inclusive growth by building on key partnerships and linkages to optimise the existing resources in reaching out to more people. The organisation is conscious of the sustainable triple bottom line coherence (people, planet and profit) and thus has developed a CSR framework identifying and prioritising its key stakeholders. This framework revolves around the principle of three I’s i.e. involve, influence and impact. To achieve this, all activities are routed through Apollo Tyres Foundation (ATF), which was registered in April 2008.
The programmes identified and defined have a clear link to its stakeholders and business risks. The programmes designed under CSR are related to customers, employees, supply chain and communities and environment. The clear objective of all CSR activities is to have a positive impact on the everyday lives of its key stakeholders and business. Within this strategy, ATF’s CSR activities focus on two broad themes “Environment” and “Social” (which has health and community development). Within the themes, there are four core areas of work – healthcare for trucking community, solid waste management and sanitation, livelihood for underprivileged women and biodiversity conservation. In addition to the above, there are a few local initiatives around its manufacturing locations. These are watershed management and renewable energy proliferation projects under environment, and road safety awareness, computer literacy under social.

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