What was meant to be a joyful launch of youth-friendly health services at Kuyasa Community Day Centre last Friday quickly turned sour when community leaders claimed that they had not been informed about the event.
Scheduled to start at 2pm, the event was delayed by two hours as the facility manager, community leadership and various other stakeholders attempted to iron out their differences.
It is believed that community leaders and the ward councillor were furious that they had not been informed about the planned proceedings.
And as a result of the bickering, mayoral committee member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, who was meant to be among the keynote speakers, left. However, the event continued as stakeholders involved finally reached an agreement.
Before leaving the venue, Dr Badroodien told Vukani that health services for young people were needed as it had been widely recognised that this group struggled with access to health care and adherence to treatment.
He added that young people were at particular risk due to the high youth unemployment rate; the burden of the HIV epidemic; and the contribution that violence and injury made to the risk factors that they experienced.
In addition to this, he said, the youth faced specific barriers to accessing the health care system. Asked about these challenges, he highlighted a lack of understanding of the dynamics that faced young people and their needs, how perceived or real stigma impacted on healthcare – and service waiting times.
“During this time of transition from childhood to adulthood, loosely defined between 10 to 24 years old, young people are faced with high physical, emotional and social demands which have a major impact on them. “This is a testing period for them, their families, teachers, healthcare providers and society as a whole,” he said.
Ward councillor Zwelijikile Simbeku denied any infighting but insisted that there had been a misunderstanding, which had been resolved. He said it was important that young people were given their own spaces within the clinic so that they did not feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk openly about their health matters.
Anoxolo Siko,agreed that as young people, they needed designated space in the clinics.
She believed that such spaces would encouraged them to attend clinics and have a place to share healthy lifestyle tips among themselves. Resident, Nomahlubi Dlula, said she supported the provision of youth-friendly services but slammed the community leaders for disrupting the programme.