Total number of beneficiaries reached
INTEGRATED SEXUAL REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RIGHTS AND HIV PROGRAM TO HIGH-SCHOOL ADOLESCENTS
Project duration: 5 years
Contacts: Dr Najma Shaikh
Southern Africa remains the epicenter of the HIV epidemic and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the leading cause of death amongst adolescents . Despite the gains made in achieving universal access to treatment, adolescents continue to have poor access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) services and face numerous health and welfare challenges in South Africa. As a consequence of poor access, the health and welfare services and the contextual factors of high multiple deprivation, unemployment, household poverty, a gender-based violence, young women having older sexual partners and poor access to family planning services, adolescents and youth face high levels of teenage pregnancy, new HIV infections, gender-based violence and poor health and educational outcomes.
In this context, a Kheth’Impilo, an indigenous Non-Profit Organisation (NPO), as health systems strengthening partner of the Department of Health was approached by the iLembe ward-based Integrated Development Planning group to address the high levels of HIV and teenage pregnancy amongst the youth. An integrated program was implemented, involving the Depts. Education, Health Social Development, local leaders, school principals, parents and members of SGBs and the local stakeholders.
The SRHR program
The program is modelled on the South African Integrated School Health Plan and guided by the Department of Educations on Policy on HIV, Sexually Transmitted infections and TB, the South African National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs, 2017-2022 and the National Youth Policy (NYP) for 2015–2020. In partnership with the local the district departments of Education, Health and Social developments, schools, Clinics, community leaders, educators, school governing bodies and local stakeholders, a multi-disciplinary team of nurses, social auxiliary workers and social workers supported by technical leads, delivered an integrated program in the Ndwedwe Sub-District.
The program comprised of :
• Delivery of SRHR Information, Education and Counselling;
• School-Based HIV and SRHR Prevention Services;
• Screening for HIV, STI, health and other issues;
• Referral to Youth-friendly Health services at the Primary Health Clinic;
• Strengthening Referral pathways for Social Protection;
• Delivery of School Holiday Programs;
• Supporting pregnant and HIV positive learners through support groups; and
• Delivery of Community- based Jamborees to deliver a combination of health and social protection services.
Since 2014, KI has delivered the program to over 20 000 learners, educators and household members in 14 schools around Ndwedwe.
· The program uptake has been over 85% within a year of each phase of the scale-up.
Teenage pregnancy rates declined from 14% at baseline to 3% post-intervention in 2015, with an average annual rate of 4% until 2019. Whilst there were low-levels of knowledge on HIV transmission, high rates of stigma and myths around the epidemic, post-intervention there was a significant improvement in knowledge on HIV prevention, care and treatment, myths & stigma. Increase in HIV testing to over 60%, Family Planning services to 39% and male medical circumcision (33%) were some of the outcomes.