Emadwaleni High School

Mobile Health Program

The Mobile Health Program supports the core work of Star for Life coaches in schools. It aims to strengthen three main pillars – HIV/AIDS counselling and testing, referrals to external health facilities and comprehensive health education. It complements the coaches’ work by providing in-depth adolescent health education through workshops that speak more directly to issues relating to safe sex, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the physical and emotional changes puberty brings.

This program has a staff of three, consisting of a professional registered nurse who heads the program and two HIV counsellors. The MHU staff work in close collaboration with the Star for Life coaches and the life skills teachers in Star for Life schools. The Mobile Health Program also reaches out to the community where the learners reside. Through campaigns and special interventions the MHU is able to reach out to the community in order to engage learners’ 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 people are educated and provided with correct information. We hope to encourage parents to start talking to their children about health-related issues.

Between 2005 and 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, reports continued to show a 50% increase in AIDS related deaths amongst youth aged 10-19 years. Even today AIDS remains the leading cause of death amongst adolescents worldwide especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

One of the major reasons for this is thought to be the lack of or limited access to adolescent friendly health services. Young people report feeling stigmatised and discriminated against when seeking sexual health services in their community clinics.

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

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