adolescent girls and young women

Launch of Malangeni Hub of Hope in OR Tambo

South African Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, supported by THC PPPrev leadership, officially launched the Malangeni Hub of Hope on Thursday, 26 October in Lusikisiki in OR Tambo.

PPPrev Director Jenny Mcloughlin, OR Tambo Regional Manager Luzuko Tosh and PPPrev Technical Advisor Thobeka Mchunu represented TB HIV Care.

The event introduced the Hub of Hope to the Malangeni community as a safe space for adolescents and youth (both in and out of school) with services including behaviour change sessions, risk assessments, psychosocial support, biomedical services and intensified economic strengthening.

TB HIV Care has rolled out Hubs of Hope in 20 supported clusters to take services directly to communities as “ïsibhedlela kubantu”.

The DREAMS programme partners with the Departments of Health, Social Development and Education to tackle social ills in communities, and the implementation of community-based services is a response to the rising statistics of teenage pregnancy and the high rate of HIV infections among adolescents and young people.

Dr Dhlomo said, “We are here because there is a rise in teenage pregnancy. I am charging you to have a plan about your future, choose abstinence and finish school to achieve better outcomes for your life.”

The Hub of Hope links adolescents and youth to adolescent and youth-friendly services (AYFS) located at the Malangeni Clinic, which is one of the provincial primary health care clinics in the OR Tambo district. It is located at Ingquza Hill Municipality in Malangeni.

“We encourage young people to utilise the AYFS facilities. This shows that they are responsible for their future; therefore, when they go to the facility to access the services, they should not be chased away because this facility is for them”, added Dr Dhlomo.

In addition, the Malangeni Hub of Hope aims to provide access to industrial skills development courses and leadership to support local adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in becoming economically empowered through securing employment or starting up small businesses.

“The Malangeni Hub of Hope is unique because of its location at the Chief Mjoji Palace. This shows the commitment of Malangeni’s traditional leadership to HIV prevention efforts and to change the lives of adolescents and youth in Malangeni.”, added Jenny Mcloughlin, Programme  Director: PPPrev/PrEP.

Launch of social ills campaign in eThekwini

On 31 August 2023, the TB HIV Care PPPrev Team joined the Deputy Minister of Health, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, at the launch of a new inter-departmental campaign in eThekwini. The campaign, led by the Department of Basic Education and supported by TB HIV Care, aims to end social ills such as violence, bullying, gender-based violence, learner pregnancy, and drug and substance abuse that ultimately affect adolescents and young people (AYP).

Presenters echoed the same sentiments, highlighting that teenage pregnancy remains a considerable challenge in KZN schools. The Deputy Minister cautioned that once adolescent girls begin menstruating, they can fall pregnant, urging learners to abstain from early sexual debut.

“There is no benefit in using drugs and alcohol; however, this can increase your vulnerability to rape or pregnancy. As young people, you should have a plan for your life to navigate school and, ultimately, your career and be able to contribute to the economy of this country. I encourage every learner to take charge of their future and health outcomes,” said Dhlomo.

According to the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), the high teenage pregnancy rate contributes to the high drop-out rate in schools, thus harming the mother and child’s health, education and socio-economic status.

The social ills campaign follows TB HIV Care’s PPPrev Team’s recent launch of the ‘0% Learner Pregnancy’ campaign in eThekwini and the upcoming radio campaign which will shine a spotlight on the issue – just some of the intensive campaigns that PPPrev eThekwini has embarked on to end teenage pregnancy in the district.

 

Campaign to end teenage pregnancy launched in eThekwini

TB HIV Care, in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality, launched the ‘0% Learner Pregnancy’ campaign on 17 August 2023. The school-based campaign was officially launched by the eThekwini Municipality Mayor, His Worship Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda, at Isolemamba High School in Durban.

The initiative follows a spike in teenage pregnancy statistics in KwaZulu-Natal, which reported over 26 000 teenage pregnancies between December 2022 and April 2023.

The initiative seeks to combat teenage and learner pregnancies by fostering an environment that empowers young girls to stay in school until Matric. This launch is a collaborative commitment between TB HIV Care and the eThekwini Municipality to create a positive impact in the lives of learners.

The well-attended launch was led by the priority populations prevention (PPPrev) eThekwini management team that spearheaded the campaign. During the event, Ntombifuthi Luthuli said, “KZN reported 26 515 pregnancies of girls aged 10-19 from December 2022 to April 2023. Of those, 1 254 were aged 14 years or younger. The eThekwini district reported most pregnancies compared to other districts, and the PPPrev eThekwini team decided to launch this initiative to reduce the number of pregnancies.”

The SABC reported that teenage pregnancy is one of the main contributing factors to the high rate of school dropouts. Therefore, this initiative also aligns with the DREAMS comprehensive HIV prevention approach to keep girls in school so they can complete their secondary education.

The PPPrev team and the schools within their allocated clusters identified peer ambassadors in the two schools (Isolemamba and Masibambane High Schools) in Nsimibini, who are learner representatives from each grade. The learners are from grade 8 to grade 11 who were trained to become role models in their schools and support the learners in their respective grades to ensure that there is no pregnancy in their schools”, added Luthuli.

The campaign has placed a strong focus on empowering learners with agricultural resources to end food insecurity in communities where we are implementing the DREAMS Programme.

“Agricultural resources were donated to the schools as learners indicated during the dialogue that was held prior to the launch that they engage in sexual activities because they support their families. The schools will be supporting learners to start gardens so that vegetables are sent to those families in need”, explained Luthuli.

According to the World Health Organization, “Every year, an estimated 21 million girls aged 15–19 years in developing regions become pregnant, and approximately 12 million of them give birth.”

The campaign will also educate learners on family planning and contraceptives as a prevention method. This initiative will be implemented in all thirty clusters that the DREAMS programme is implemented in within the in eThekwini district.

“All women and girls at risk of an unintended pregnancy have a right to access emergency contraception, and these methods should be routinely included within all national family planning programmes”, highlights WHO.