Youth empowered at ’Plain health centre

Pupils from Lentegeur High School at the launch.

Teenagers now have access to dedicated health services at Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre in Eastridge after the Department of Health launched the Adolescent Youth Friendly Services (AYFS) on Wednesday August 16.

This means that there are now service hours just for adolescents and youth. Pupils from Lentegeur, Beacon Hill and Glendale high schools attended the launch at Lentegeur Hospital main hall.

The aim of the launch was to encourage youth to take responsibility for their own health and educate them on how these services can be accessed at the Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre (day hospital).

At the launch were staff members of the Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre, the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, YMCA and the TB/HIV Care Association.

Spokesperson for the provincial Department of Health, Monique Johnstone said the services will be rendered at healthcare facilities in the Mitchell’s Plain and Klipfontein district areas. She said it forms part of the R81 million grant awarded to the department by the Global Fund in 2016.

The facilities launching the AYFS also include Heideveld Community Day Centre (CDC), Hanover Park Community Health Centre (CHC), Gugulethu CHC, Dr Abdurahman CDC, Crossroads CDC, Nyanga CDC and Inzame Zabantu CDC.

MEC for Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo said the AYFS form part of the Young Women and Girls project, which was launched by the department 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 form 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,” she said.

Beacon Hill High School pupil Shaulin Schortz said as a youngster it is important to look after your health. “It is good to see that the department is catering for us. Young people do not want to visit the day hospital because they are embarrassed and fear that they will be judged. And there are cases when young people really do need the services, but won’t go,” she said.

Stephanie Fourie, HIV/Aids Sexual transmitted disease and Tuberculosis (HAST) manager for the Klipfontein and Mitchell’s Plain district, said the department has partnered with the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation to roll out the services to the youth within the drainage areas of each primary healthcare facility in the district to make healthcare services more accessible to the needs of young people between 10 and 24.

She said approximately 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 is 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 and Aids, TB and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) over the next five years; and reduce self-reported stigma related to HIV and TB,” she said.

Sister Lulu Mtwisha from the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation spoke at the launch while a facilitator of the AYFS encouraged pupils to use the services.

Sister Mtwisha said the staff is well trained to deal with health issues and will assist the youth.

“We have discovered when conducting random interviews outside of the day hospital environment, young people do not want to wait long for healthcare services. “They 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,” she said.

In order to counter these negative feelings they associate when accessing healthcare services, each facility will grant the youth access to a dedicated service from 2pm to 4pm from Monday to Friday 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 schedule.

Services offered at these Adolescent Youth Friendly clinics will include 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.