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The Deputy Minister of Health; Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, MEC of KwaZulu-Natal Health; Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu on (Tuesday, 22 February), visited University of Zululand as part of countrywide Sexual Reproductive Health awareness month activities. This is part of road show campaign to assess provision and access of health services in higher learning institutions. Moreover, to consult with young people in identifying gaps in the current responses for young people’s challenges, strategies to improve intervention and lastly to respond to programmes.

Adolescents are at increased risk of HIV infection compared to other age groups. In response to the challenges facing the young people with regards to access to health services, the Department of Health has developed National Adolescent and Health policy in 2017 which recommended the establishment of youth zone as a low hanging fruit to fast track the implementation of the Adolescent and Youth Friendly services (AYFS).

Institutions of higher learning have numbers of the department of health’s target group between the ages of 20-24 years. Research shows that this is a group faced with health challenges.

Welcoming the Deputy Ministers, Prof Xoliswa Mtose, interrogated some of the definitions and interpretations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in terms of sexual reproductive health.   “The WHO’s definition to health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being; in this regard we take the view that being in good health should not be equated to the absence of disease or infirmity.  Some of the challenges faced by our youth are psychosocial, in this regard; reproductive health is about ensuring that people are able to make responsible decisions as it relates to their productive health is concerned. it means that men and women ought to be informed of, and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of birth control. Also appropriate access to healthcare services of sexual activities or engagements, reproductive medicine and implementation of health education programs to stress the importance of women that they go safely through the pregnancy and childbirth.

 The university’s clinic offers comprehensive services, to all its students.  A provision of these services is to cater to all students, with full knowledge that some of them come from areas that are under-served.  We have ensured that University clinic is easily accessible, this includes interventions that are short, medium and long term.”

The Deputy Minister of Health; Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo in his keynote address, stated the following: “– South African adolescent and youth are facing various health challenges and social ills, and as government leaders in collaboration with youth organisations, we have committed ourselves to work closely with young people in order to better understand their need to  do something to work closely with you students, it is important to involve you in our campaigns in order to better serve to change our society.

Last week the Departments of Health, and Higher Education, Science and Innovation led by Minister Phaahla and Deputy Minister Manamela launched Youth Vaccination Programme called #KeReady or “I-am- Ready, this is a youth led and conceptualized campaign by young people to discuss the benefits of vaccination with their peers in order to reduce the likelihood of transmission of the virus.”

Dr Dhlomo also alluded to the fact that: “Gender-Based violence remains a serious issue of concern, and we need to support the victims who are women in majority to break the silence so the perpetrators can face the law. Most of these GBV cases are linked to substance abuse, alcohol and drugs in particular, contribute to poor academic outcomes.”

L-R: Vice Chancellor of UNIZULU; Prof. Xoliswa Mtose, Deputy Minister of Health; Dr. Sibongiseni Dhlomo, MEC for KZN Health; Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu and CEO of Higher Health; Prof. Ramneek Ahluwalia. 

– Siyanda Mntambo

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