Some of the participants posing for a group picture at the UYAHF Adolescent Health Clinic.

Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) recently established an adolescent health clinic in Mbale district. The Adolescent Health Clinic strives to be a leading center for excellence for quality, rights-based adolescents friendly health services, well-being, and research in Eastern Uganda and Uganda at large. The clinic’s commitment is hinged on UYHAF’s passion to protect and improve the health and well-being of adolescents including enhancing their demand, access, and uptake of integrated, quality, and comprehensive health care services including; Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH), HIV, Gender-Based Violence (GBV), and other general health care services.

On 29th January 2021, the Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Clinic organized a capacity training on the adolescent health package and delivery of quality youth-friendly services at the UYHAF Adolescent Health Clinic in the Mbale district. The capacity training was attended by 25 health workers (18F, 7M). The capacity training  was organized under the following objectives;

1.Build capacity of health care providers on standards for quality health care services for adolescents.

2.Discuss and disseminate the Adolescent Health Policy Guidelines and Service Standards with health care service providers.

3.Introduce UYHAF Adolescent Health Clinic and its services to health providers.

4.Create a space for health care providers to share experiences, learn and dialogue on strategies to improve adolescent health and well-being and provision of youth-friendly services.

Patrick Mwesigye the team leader of UYAHF while giving his brief remarks informed the health workers that human rights are for everyone there for clients must have the liberty to choose what they prefer basing on their rights. It’s for this reason that UYHAF is working in collaboration with the ministry of health and the ministry of education and sports to see to it that youth have a better life. As a youth-led organization youth participation is paramount in everything that we do that is why we involve young people as key stakeholders and key beneficiaries. We are expanding our reach in the communities by engaging our change champions. For one to be a change champion a call for change champions is set out annually to young people to apply, this is done virtually or in person. The change champions automatically get to be apart of the youth hub which is a safe space for them to learn from each other by sharing challenges and best practices on various SRHR experiences, build their capacities in youth engagement and advocacy and enjoy the innovations aboard. At the youth hub young people are engaged in economic activities such as bakery, hairdressing, tailoring among others, they also enjoy a lot of indoor games such as draft, chess, snakes and ladders, and SRHR movies.  Patrick Mwesigye in his closing remarks called upon the health workers to collaborate with the UYHAF Adolescent Health Clinic since it’s the bed of adolescent welfare.

Kagoye Beatrice a representative from the district while sharing her brief opening remarks thanked UYHAF for welcoming the District Health Team to be apart of this capacity-building training. She appreciated the efforts of UYHAF on behalf of the District Health Office to ensure the safety and wellbeing of adolescents and young people in Mbale. She thanked all the health workers who managed to come through for the capacity-building training. She concluded her remarks by pledging to work hand in hand with the UYHAF Adolescent Health Clinic on behalf of the district.

Many times adolescents and young people have complained about the way some health workers treat them when they go to the health facilities. Some of the challenges raised by them are the lack of privacy, rudeness, and judgment from health workers among others.  The health workers had capacity-building training on understanding standards for quality health care services for adolescents. The training specifically looked at providing quality, comprehensive, and integrated youth-friendly services, and ADH packages. Emphasis was on adolescent/ youth-friendly services because, in the past, reproductive health services that had been offered to adolescents and young people through the adolescent-friendly approach were fragmented, varied, and incomplete. For an adolescent to achieve their full potential they need to be provided with opportunities to live in a safe and supportive environment, acquire accurate information and values about health and development needs, build life skills they need to protect and safeguard their health, obtain counseling services and have access to a wide range of services addressing their health needs. The characteristics for quality adolescent-friendly services include;

1.Equitable All adolescents, not just certain groups, can obtain the health services they need. It is characterized by health care providers treating all adolescent clients with equal care and respect, regardless of status. This means that health-care providers administer the same level of care and consideration to all adolescents regardless of age, sex, social status, cultural background, ethnic origin, disability, or any other reason.

2.Accessible-Adolescents can obtain the health services that are provided. It is characterized by policies and procedures are in place that ensure that health services are either free or affordable to adolescents and the point of health service delivery has convenient hours of operation.

3.Acceptable-Health services are provided in ways that meet the expectations of adolescent clients. It is characterized by having the point of health service delivery provides information and education through a variety of channels and adolescents are actively involved in designing, assessing, and providing health services

4.Appropriate -The health services that adolescents need are provided. It is characterized by having the required package of health care is provided to fulfill the needs of all adolescents either at the point of health service delivery or through referral linkages.

5.Effective – The right health services are provided in the right way and make a positive contribution to the health of adolescents. This is characterized by health-care providers who have the required competencies to work with adolescents and to provide them with the required health services and health-care providers that can dedicate sufficient time to work effectively with their adolescent clients.

During the training, 4 tips were given to the health workers to enable them to communicate effectively with adolescents and young people.

1.Start the conversation. The health worker should start by introducing themselves to the person and allow them to introduce themselves. This should be simple and friendly.

2.Find out about the client’s questions and current behavior. The health worker should ask the person what they know about the topic under discussion and inquire from them what additional information they need about the topic.

3.Discuss the barriers they have against practicing the key actions for example ask how do you feel about family planning? What makes you feel that way? What do you think about it? What makes it easy or hard to?

4.Give appropriate information and referral e.g recognize the feelings of the client and emphasize what works well, correct misinformation and emphasize what works well, record your meeting points on the monitoring sheet.

Health workers were encouraged to remember ROLES when communicating with adolescent clients:

R = Relax the client by using facial expressions showing interest

O = Open up the client by using a warm and caring tone of voice

L = Lean towards the client, not far away from him/her

E = Establish and maintain eye contact with the client

S = Smile