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Youth urged to use health spaces that speak to them

todayJune 22, 2023 84

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The South African National Aids Council (SANAC) is urging young people to use the health department’s Youth Zones, which are safe spaces for them to receive advice on sexual and reproductive health without feeling judged.
Young people have in the past expressed that they have experienced hostile treatment from health workers whenever they would visit a clinic or hospital when seeking assistance.
The hostility has often been attributed to the stigma surrounding the person’s age or ethnicity.
These experiences are seen as some of the factors that contribute to a slew of issues that result in the high rate in teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortions, STIs and HIV infections.
According to the National Health Department Spokesperson, Foster Mohale, the Youth Zones were first established in 2019/20 financial year.
He says to date government has managed to establish 1 915 of them across the country.
These health zones are part of efforts to standardise the quality of adolescent health services in the country and accelerate access to health services, especially sexual reproductive health services by young people.
Yesterday, SANAC’s Nelson Dlamini revealed that nationally over 1 300 new HIV infections are recorded weekly in the 15–24-year age group.
Dlamini says while these numbers on young girls, who contract HIV are concerning, the numbers among boys have also started to increase.
The news comes amid concerns over the high pregnancy rate among teenagers in the country.
In KwaZulu-Natal alone, provincial Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane recently revealed that over 26 000 girls aged between 10 and 19 years fell pregnant between April and December last year.
From that number, 1 254 of those girls were aged 14 and younger.
These stats have the DA in the province hopping mad.

The party has now urged the police to prioritise investigating the cases of underage girls who fall pregnant.

It believes that government departments need to gain a better understanding of the drivers and conditions that give rise to the teenage pregnancy crisis in the province.

The DA’s KZN provincial spokesperson for Health, Edwin Baptie, says these stats are an indication that it can’t be business as usual.

Written by: Nokwazi Qumbisa

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