By: Nomcebo Mthembu (Unfinished Business Project Clinical Advisor in Pongola Sub-District)
Children and caregivers showing their gifts after clinic support day.
With June being Youth Month in South Africa, a number of youth health awareness events were held across the country to celebrate the historic events that took place on 16 June 1976, now known as Youth Day.
In Zululand District in KwaZulu-Natal, this was the perfect moment for the Unfinished Business Project's Clinical Advisor for Pongola Sub-district, Nomcebo Mthembu, and the Pongola Clinic's Facility Team Lead, Simphiwe Myeni, to co-ordinate and facilitate the re-introduction of a Clinic Support Day event on Saturday 11 June 2022.
The main purpose of this event was to offer services that would ensure the continuity of care and viral suppression for all young people and children under 19 years who are living with HIV. A multi-disciplinary team consisting of a Health Systems Trust's Lay Counsellor, Psychosocial Advisor and Paediatric Case Manager, and a Social Worker and Lay Counsellor from Sinethemba community partner organisation, provided these wide-ranging health services.
The team helped each individual patient with developing an antiretroviral therapy (ART) plan as needed and suited to their personal circumstances, which would support long-term treatment adherence and viral suppression. The causes of high viral load among these young people were identified, and plans to reduce the causes were developed and explained to the patients and their caregivers.
Caregivers were supported and guided on how young patients should disclose their HIV status, and the patients' current ART regimens were reviewed to make sure that they were still on suitable treatments and clinical management was provided where changes had to be made.
Ten children and four caregivers attended the Clinic Support day. The young people were divided into groups according to their age for consultations, and their patient files were reviewed and updated once they had received the services.
Viral blood samples were drawn and the specimens were immediately sent to Itshelejuba Hospital for laboratory testing. All the children were also seen by the Psychosocial Advisor to help with the disclosure process, and they were issued with their medication and booked for their next appointment for follow-up in July.
Caregivers and adolescent patients received one-on-one sessions while the Lay Counsellors played fun games with the younger children. Sinethemba provided refreshments, and the clinic team thanked the young patients and their caregivers for their participation on the day. Gifts were donated for the children by a sponsor, and children could take photographs with their caregivers.
The caregivers were delighted with the event, and requested that more such programmes be offered on Saturdays, when they are not working.
HEALTH SYSTEMS TRUST - CONTACT DETAILS
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