New health service for youth

Sadeeka Ismail, left, having a glucose test done by Sister Elizabeth van der Merwe from the Heideveld Community Day Centre.

Dr Abdrahman Community Day Centre (CDC) and Heideveld CDC officially launched the Adolescent Youth Friendly Services (AYFS) in June.

This service forms part of the R81 million Global Fund grant awarded to the department last year.

The other facilities launching the AYFS are Gugulethu Community Health Centre (CHC), Crossroads CDC, Nyanga CDC, Inzame Zabantu CDC, Hanover Park Community Health Centre CHC, and Mitchell’s Plain CHC.

The AYFS forms part of the Young Women and Girls project, which was launched by Health MEC, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo last year, and funded for three years by the Global Fund as an investment to make an impact in reducing TB, HIV and teenage pregnancy among young women and girls in the Cape Metropole.

“HIV/Aids is one of the biggest burdens of disease that plagues society. It is alarming to see that there is an increase among young adults.

“This is a result of poor socio-economic conditions faced by our youth which leads to alcohol and drug abuse among young adults and risky sexual behaviour. It is of utmost importance to improve HIV preventive programmes for the youth.

“That is why we are launching these Adolescent Youth Friendly Services which forms part of the Women of Worth Project in Klipfontein and Mitchell’s Plain to encourage our youth to take responsibility for their health and wellbeing,” said Dr Mbombo.

“The department has partnered with the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation to roll-out the services to the youth within the Athlone, Heideveld and Hanover Park drainage areas of each primary healthcare facility in Klipfontein to make healthcare services more accessible to the needs of young people aged between 10 and 24, and to keep young girls in school and decrease the teenage pregnancy, tuberculosis (TB), and HIV/Aids infection rate among our young people,” said Stephanie Fourie manager for the Klipfontein and Mitchell’s Plain Department of Health.

About 19 percent of pregnancies and antenatal bookings are from teenagers accessing the services in the Mitchell’s Plain, Nyanga, Gugulethu, Manenberg, Heideveld, Crossroads, Hanover Park, and Athlone areas, and who have tested positive for HIV between 2015 and 2016.

“The aim of these AYFS are to initiate at least 80 percent of eligible clients onto antiretroviral treatment (ART), and ensure an enabling and accessible legal framework that protects and promotes human rights in order to support how the province responds to the prevention and treatment of HIV/Aids, TB and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) over the next five years; and reduce self-reported stigma related to HIV and TB,” said Ms Fourie.

“We are responding to the high teenage pregnancy rate and youth HIV positive status by providing youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services,” said Dr Mbombo.

“We have discovered when conducting random interviews outside of the day hospital environment, that our young people do not want to wait long for healthcare services, and often shy away from a facility when coming for family planning when they see an adult family member, or when they have to deal with a staff member who does not understand their emotional and healthcare needs and challenges,” said Lulu Mtwisha from the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation and facilitator of the AYFS process.

To counter these negative feelings they associate when accessing healthcare services, Dr Abdurahman CDC will grant the youth access to a dedicated service from 2pm to 5pm from Monday to Friday and Heideveld from 2pm to 4pm during weekdays, where a special reception window will be allocated to them to create a patient folder and services provided in an exclusive area by trained healthcare professionals.

Emergency services required out of this time frame will have to be accessed according to the facility’s normal time frames and schedule. Services offered at these AYFS clinics will be mental healthcare where a mental health nurse and registered counsellor will be available to provide guidance, emergency contraception, family planning, rehabilitation services and support from a social worker on an appointment basis, HIV and Aids tests and counselling and sexually transmitted disease treatment, to name a few.

“We established a youth committee consisting of young staff members and youth from our drainage area to ensure that the facility is held accountable in its continuous plight to provide youth friendly healthcare services,” said Florence Burger, facility manager of Dr Abdurahman CDC.

“We want more physical activities, health-related and sexual education and awareness programmes for our young people, as most of us do not receive sexual education at home,” said Seagan van Niekerk, 23, newly elected chairperson of the youth committee at Dr Abdurahman CDC.

“I believe that if we work together as a team and support each other, and create awareness of these new services, the Adolescent Youth Friendly healthcare service will work for all role-players,” said Ms Van Niekerk.

The youth health committee will meet once a month to conduct engagement meetings with various role-players in their call to encourage the youth to make more and better use of the department’s services.