Health facilities not-adolescent friendly-teens

By Paulina Ndalikokule

LEARNERS from various schools in Windhoek have expressed their dissatisfaction with the way that many health workers in the country deal with young people. At a City of Windhoek boys and girls leadership conference held in Windhoek recently, learners noted that health facilities are not adolescent-friendly, a main reason why they don’t visit such health facilities.

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The conference aimed to look at whether current health facilities are adolescent-friendly when it comes to issues relating to HIV/AIDS, especially. They discussed various aspects relating negative personal experiences they had at some hospitals and clinics, such as rude nurses, long lines and concerns about health practitioners being disrespectful, among others.

“Some nurses call patients by their disease instead of their names, something they say promotes stigma. For example, I heard a nurse call a patient saying, ‘You with HIV come get your medication,’ in front of everyone, such type of things makes us uncomfortable and not want to visit hospitals,” a learner said.

“Sometimes you are really sick but the long lines at hospitals are very exhausting, so I would rather take a painkiller and go back to school instead of being treated,” another learner noted.

“Every time I go to the hospital sick even if I have a headache they will first suggest a pregnancy test, something that is not comfortable at all,” junior mayor Grace Mackinza said.

They also urged government to digitise the health systems so that things are faster, adding that if HIV testing devices are provided at home then it will be better for them to know where they stand without anyone noting that they underwent HIV-testing.

“Also having different lines [for specific ailments] in the hospital makes it too obvious about people’s diseases,” they observed.

The youth also highlighted that they feel comfortable working with younger nurses who understand them better, with a social worker around, compared to older people who may be more judgmental.

“Older people mostly judge us when we go for HIV testing, they will see you as a sexual active person just because you want to know where you stand,” another learner said.

Lydia Simeon, a junior council secretary said hospitals should start to accommodate everyone irrespective of their ages whether they are under parental supervision or not. “Not to say that we want to be adults but hospitals must be able to give services to any person, especially when it comes to sensitive issues like knowing HIVAIDS status,” she said.

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Also present at the event was Windhoek Mayor Fransina Kahungu, who encouraged young people to speak out about issues affecting them. “As your leaders we care for everyone, especially you young people, that is why the City of Windhoek has a programme dealing with your matters, so you don’t feel left out,” Kahungu said.

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