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Jun 21
Youth Day event highlights the need for the increased implementation of Adolescent and Youth Friendly Services at local clinics

By: Lunga Memela (Communications Engagement Lead)

Youngsters enjoying soccer amongst other games that were played on the day.

Saturday, 18 June 2022, will be a day to remember for quite a while amongst eThekwini Metro's Department of Health (DoH) staff, the Health Systems Trust (HST), collaborating District Support Partners (DSPs) and especially the youngsters residing in New Germany as well as the neighbouring Clermont and KwaDabeka townships following a fun-filled sports and entertainment event that was held at Solomon Mahlangu Hall in commemoration of Youth Day.

It wasn't merely the music, dancing, soccer, netball, indigenous games, cultural activities and the variety of free health screening services available on site that made the day one of sheer joy, but also the safe space created for the promotion and integration of the DoH's Adolescent and Youth Friendly Services (AYFS) into the community.

HST's Health Systems Strengthening Manager, Rakshika Bhana, recently explained that HST's Unfinished Business for Adolescent and Paediatric HIV programme in KwaZulu-Natal (UB project), funded by the ELMA Philanthropies, is implemented in three health districts in KwaZulu-Natal, namely eThekwini, uMgungundlovu and Zululand, and seeks to improve outcomes for the age group 0–19 years across the HIV 90-90-90 cascade.

Hard-working and passionate about the youth: HST's Psycosocial Advisor (UB) Nonhle Maphumulo; New Germany Clinic's Nursing Services Manager, Sameer Rajah; and HST's Clinical Advisor (UB) Phumzile Matolo.

The Youth Day event was nothing short of a dream come true for New Germany Clinic's Nursing Services Manager, Sameer Rajah, who said the clinic was excited to introduce AYFS into the facility for the benefit of the youth in the community and its surrounding areas. For him, the Youth Day event was a reminder of how the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted optimal healthcare service delivery in eThekwini, especially access to healthcare, adherence to chronic medication and adequate health screening, importantly in the prevention of TB, HIV and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

"The young ones are close to our hearts," Rajah said. "We have to groom them because the world is their oyster." He said the New Germany facility has been longing to do a youth intervention. Launching AYFS at the facility was a big win, and so the Youth Day event was just a bonus. "We want to have more such youth interventions, but sometimes resources are a limitation."

"AYFS is a platform for us to fast engage with youth, to know the concerns straight from the horse's mouth. We are concerned about the prevalence of teenage pregnancy, STIs, new HIV infections, and alcohol and drug abuse that has been on the rise." Healthcare has always been his passion, and he said that as DoH colleagues, they are blessed to be supported by dedicated HST staff.

Colleagues turned into friends Nonhle Maphumulo and Phumzile Matolo have both been at HST for over three years and are still going strong. They enjoy working under the UB project because it deals directly with young people. "The youth is our future so if we can groom them as early as possible that is key," said Matolo.

Maphumulo said it was sad to see young people being infected with HIV, "and so the idea is to provide as much care, support and health education as possible."  

The day's activities included COVID-19 vaccine promotion, voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) and free health screening for an array of illnesses, which was done in partnership with other DSPs that were present on the day.

 HST and DoH staff happy to be of service at the Youth Day event. 


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