Teenage pregnancy and HIV is on the rise with 19 percent of pregnant young women coming for antenatal bookings in the Mitchells Plain, Nyanga, Gugulethu, Manenberg, Heideveld, Crossroads, Hanover Park and Athlone areas testing positive for HIV between 2015 and 2016.
In the light of these findings, the Western Cape Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, has officially launched the Women of Worth Project.
The project is supported by the Global Fund which has awarded the department an R81 million grant in the fight against TB, HIV and teenage pregnancy amongst young women and girls in the Cape Metropole.
The initiative is an ambitious programme targeting young women between ages 19 - 24 years.
It will deliver a package of care based on an evidence-based approach that goes beyond the health sector by addressing the drivers that increase young women’s risk to HIV including poverty, gender inequality and poor education.
The initiative will provide a basket of services including self - empowerment coaching, parenting and caregiver programmes, and a combination of socio-economic incentives aimed at HIV prevention approaches.
“HIV/Aids is one of the biggest burdens of disease that plagues society.
It is alarming to see that there is an increase among young adults. This is a result of poor socio-economic conditions faced by our youth which leads to alcohol and drug abuse among young adults and risky sexual behaviours.
It is of utmost importance to improve HIV preventive programmes for the youth. That is why we are launching the Women of Worth Project to encourage our youth to take responsibility for their health and wellbeing,” said Minister Mbombo.
The R81 million project will also aid the Department to further its ongoing prevention programs for adolescents and youth in and out of school, which ultimately assists in reducing the prevalence of young females aged between 10 and 24 years from contracting HIV and Aids and Tuberculosis (TB).
It will also help to implement an education plan for the prevention of teenage pregnancy through life skills, sexual and reproductive health education, HIV counselling and testing.
Through this new intervention, we will enhance sexual and reproductive health and well-being by encouraging HIV prevention, whilst also offering health and psychosocial interventions that will assist young women in transitioning into healthy young adults.
Our facilities within the Mitchell’s Plain and Klipfontein Sub-District areas have tailored their services to better meet the needs of young women visiting our facilities.
“The Department has been working hard at ensuring that staff at both provincial and district levels received training on community engagement methodologies as to enhance our impact,” said Minister Mbombo.
Through community based workers, our touch points with communities, the Department will offer life skills training over 12 months that will better equip young women for the rigors of adulthood.
Incentivising youth participation is the name of the game. Participants of the programme will have the opportunity to earn rewards for continual participation in the project.
The overall strategic goal is to reduce HIV infections in adolescents within the Mitchells Plain and Klipfontein area by at least 50 percent using a combination of prevention approaches.
We also seek to –
• initiate at least 80 percent of eligible clients onto antiretroviral treatment (ART)
• ensure an enabling and accessible legal framework that protects and promotes human rights in order to support how the Province responds to the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS, TB and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) over the next five years; and reduce self-reported stigma related to HIV and TB by at least 50 percent.
“We are responding to the high teenage pregnancy rate and youth HIV positive status by providing youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services,” said the Minister Mbombo.