Fresh start for youth

Dr Jennie Morgan and Gugulethu CHC staff launching the Adolescent Youth Friendly Services with pupils from ID Mkhize and Fezeka high schools and the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation.

The Adolescent Youth Friendly Services at Gugulethu community health centre (CHC) was launched last week.

The service forms part of the Young Women and Girls project, which was launched by tHealth MEC, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, last year and funded for three years by the Global Fund to reduce TB and HIV infection rates, and teenage pregnancy among young women and girls in the Cape Metropole.

The provincial health department has partnered with the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation to roll out the services to the youth within the catchment areas of each primary healthcare facility in the Mitchell’s Plain and Klipfontein districts and to make healthcare services more accessible to the needs of young people aged between 10 and 24.

Dr Mbombo said they were responding to the high teenage pregnancy rate and youth HIV infection rate by providing youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services. Services offered at these youth friendly clinics include mental healthcare where a mental health nurse and registered counsellor would be available to provide guidance, emergency contraception, family planning, rehabilitation services and support from a social worker on an appointment basis. Also available would be HIV testing and counselling and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

The facility caters for both boys and girls who are at school and at the launch was described as a space where young people could go without the fear of being judged. The clinic will also be open over the weekend but with limited services.

Gugulethu facility manager Lunga Makhamba said the aim was to consider the youth’s interests and the challenges which prevent them from going to clinics.

“The truth is there are challenges with them. They do not want to come to the clinic for reasons known to them. But one of those was that there are young nursing staff and they feel embarrassed being helped by them. I am not sure the reality of that. But this clinics will suite them well. I hope they find it attractive and attend more often,” he said.

Lulu Mtwisha from the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation and facilitator of the youth friendly service, appealed to parents to support the facility – and the nurses who work there.”Do not run to media for petty issues that could have been corrected. If they err, please tell them,” she said.