Juliet Houghton is Country Director for CHIVA South Africa. In her latest blog she writes about our partnership with UNFPA.
Adolescence is always going to be a difficult time. But for the young people of South Africa’s uThukela district, issues of poverty, rurality, and a lack of access to high-quality healthcare and education make these years even harder. Add HIV and gender inequality into the mix, and it is no surprise to see those aged between 15 and 24 carrying the largest burden of HIV.
With so many issues, it can be hard to know where to start. But as I return from KwaZulu-Natal, where CHIVA South Africa is currently working with UNFPA to provide on-site mentoring and support to 20 clinics in the uThukela district, I can’t help but feel optimistic. Why? Because I know we’re not doing it alone.
Here, the programme’s greatest strengths are its partnerships – at every level. From the bottom-up, our team is taking care to work closely with local communities and the young people within them. Bringing together representatives from across sectors and services, we enable communities to address concerns and work together through challenges. It is our job to empower others, make sure that each voice is heard, and that programme clinics are supported to deliver services that meet the needs of adolescents and youth.
At the other end of the scale, I am proud to see our team working in close collaboration with the District Health Management Team. By working to shared values and objectives, together we are implementing improvements that are guided and sustained by strong leadership and engaged management.
Halfway through the project timeframe and already over half of the 20 clinics are on track to become accredited Adolescent & Youth Friendly services. There is still work to be done – but when the programme comes to an end this November, our shared momentum will continue to drive the development of AYFS across the region.
The young people of uThukela might face numerous challenges, but through our combined efforts, access to quality healthcare need not be one of them.