SA Taxi Foundation takes preventative health care to the ranks

SA Taxi Foundation takes preventative health care to the ranks

As part of SA Taxi’s dedication to making a positive contribution to the communities from which it derives its revenue, the SA Taxi Foundation, which is responsible for the company’s social investment, is testing the means to provide preventative health care for minibus drivers.


In a series of pilots that have been run in collaboration with regional taxi associations since May and will finish at the end of September, SA Taxi Foundation has commissioned a health care provider to run mobile clinics at taxi ranks. Drivers are offered basic health checks, including eye, blood pressure, and diabetes tests.


When health issues are identified, the drivers are referred to health care providers in their area for follow ups and treatment.


“At SA Taxi, we have been concerned for some time that, as a norm, minibus taxi drivers work seven days a week, often for up to 18 hours a day and always under pressure,” says Kalnisha Singh, director of the SA Taxi Foundation. “Clearly, this is not an ideal lifestyle for maintaining good health. More than that, however, it allows no time for visits to a doctor, either for a check up or for getting treatment for a specific ailment.


“According to recent estimates by the Departments of Transport and Health, some 25% of the general population of road users has a health issue at any given time that would make it unsafe for them to be driving. For instance, eating a chocolate during a long drive can push up one’s glucose levels by a couple of points – just enough to cause disturbances to vision.


“So, we set out to find out whether the situation is worse among taxi drivers, whose driving time is both more extended and concentrated than that of the average road user. Our pilot health assessments are showing that some 23% of the drivers assessed do indeed have a health issue that could affect their driving.


“Being made aware of this enables them to take preventative measures and keep themselves and their passengers safe. For this reason, we are now investigating the most efficient way of providing ongoing health care assessments to the thousands of taxi drivers around the country.”


Because of the sheer scale of delivery called for, provision of the assessments has to be a collaborative effort. SA Taxi Foundation is in discussions with health care provider groupings that are focused on wellness and primary and preventative care and have the qualifications and means to do basic assessments. The mobile assessment process will include a referral system to local health care providers.


“Our roving clinic will not make diagnoses,” say Singh. “It will simply alert drivers to the need, if there is one, to consult a doctor or specialist in their area. For example, if an eye test indicates short sightedness or cataracts, our doctor or nursing sister will recommend a visit to an optometrist. They will also provide basic lifestyle advice and create awareness around common ailments and conditions that could affect drivers’ ability to drive safely.


“Obviously, all patient details will be kept strictly confidential. But we do hope to compile statistics that will give the industry better insight into the health and wellbeing of its drivers in general.


“As always, our purpose is to improve quality of life for members of the minibus taxi industry and, by extension, of the communities the industry serves.”