Emadwaleni High School

Mobile Health Program

Between 2005 – 2013 UNAIDS reported a reduction of Aids related deaths by 35%. This had been a major breakthrough in the global fight against HIV/Aids. However at a time when the world celebrated this major achievement and breakthrough, reports continue to show a 50% increase in Aids related deaths amongst adolescent youth of 10-19 years. Today, the situation remains rife as AIDS still remain the leading cause of death amongst adolescent worldwide and even more especially in Sub- Saharan Africa.

One of the very major reasons to these statistics have been attributed to the lack of or limited access to adolescent friendly health services. Young people report feeling labelled, stigmatised and discriminated against when seeking for sexual health services in their community clinics.

As a response to this, Star for Life opened their first Mobile Health Unit in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, in 2010. Its main purpose was to scale up adolescent friendly health care services amongst learners who are in Star for Life schools to increase health and educational outcomes. The program in KZN had been running for 5 years when an evaluation was conducted. The results of the evaluation showed the program helped reduce HIV among young people and helped increase the knowledge of hiv/aids. Based on these findings the program was then awarded further funding to expand its operation to other Star for Life sites – the Gauteng province and in Namibia.

The Mobile Health program supports the core SfL work. It works to strengthen 3 main pillars – HIV/Aids counselling and testing, proper referrals to external health facilities and comprehensive health education. This program supports and extends the core SfL work run by the Star for Life coaches in the SfL schools. It complements the coaches work by providing in-depth adolescent health education and delivers workshops that speak more directly to issues relating to safe sex, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and what physical and emotional changes puberty brings. In addition, it also makes provision for adolescent friendly health services such as HIV/Aids counselling, testing and referrals accessible.

This program has a staff component of 3 personal consisting of a professional registered nurse who heads the program and 2 HIV counsellors who assist the nurse. The MHU staff works in close collaboration with the SfL coaches as well as the Life skills teachers in the SfL schools. Together they all play a part in the mobilisation of learners as well as the organisation of the sessions, workshops and activities for the duration of the time the unit is in the school. The Mobile Health Program also reaches out to the community where the learners reside. This is done via community based campaigns and special interventions organised for the sake of engaging their parents and other community members. The aim of this activity is to ensure that relevant information continues to be disseminated within the community and that members are educated and provided with correct information. This aims at encouraging parents to initiate conversations with their children that take on a health-related nature. Also, schools rely on the unit to be part of interventions that the school organises.

Facts and reports about health:

  • Only 11% of the adolescent (15-19) are tested for HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • 7 out of 10 new infections in the ages 15-19 years old are amongst girls
  • Every hour 26 adolescents, 15-19 years old, are infected with HIV
  • 70% of 15-19 year old boys and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have comprehensive HIV knowledge