On June 22, 2022, the Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF) conducted a health worker’s capacity-building training for Butaleja on comprehensive integrated adolescent-friendly sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR) and services to young people using the harm reduction approach.
The training, held at city resort hotel in Butaleja, brought together 12 health workers representing 12 government health facilities across the district, including nurses, midwives, and senior medical officers.
It was organized under the objectives: to increase the capacity of health workers to provide standard and high-quality SRHR services to adolescents and young people using the harm reduction model, to Discuss and disseminate the Adolescent Health Policy Guidelines and service standards with health care service providers, Introduce the UYAHF Adolescent Health Clinic and share its experience as a center of excellence for the delivery of quality youth-friendly services; and Provide a forum for health care providers to share experiences, learn, and dialogue on strategies to improve adolescent health, well-being, and the delivery of youth-friendly services.
While opening the training, Sister Namulondo Hawa, a nurse at Busolwe hospital, stated that the training is a good initiative considering the fact that many adolescents avoid health facilities due to the unfriendly nature of some health workers.
“If you ask most adolescents why they don’t go to health facilities for services, they will boldly tell you that health workers are harsh and unfriendly to them,” Namulonodo added. She attributes this to a lack of targeted training for health workers in dealing with young people and different categories of people, including adolescents.
Sister Namulondo believes that with such specialized training provided to health workers, especially with the harm reduction approach and if put into practice, health workers’ attitudes will change and many young people will begin to flock to the health facilities for SRHR services and information.
During the training, Mr. Namonyo Franco, the in-charge of UYAHF adolescent health clinic, Mbale, one of the facilitators, told the health workers how essential effective communication is when dealing with young people.
“How you interact with mature people should be different from how you interact with young people.” Begin by being welcoming, simple, and giving them time despite your busy schedule. As a result, they will open up to you and always want to come and talk to you if there is a problem, “Franco said.
He urged health workers to respect and value young people’s privacy and exercise patience when interacting with them.
Another Facilitator Sr. Lillian Enwaku, the Mbale district SGBV focal person who led the counseling session during the training, pointed out the need to value confidentiality when speaking with adolescents about sexual and reproductive health issues.
“These young people require safe spaces; remove them from the crowd.” “Confidentiality is essential in any counseling session, and you should make an effort to listen to their concerns,” said Sr. Lillian.
During the training, the health workers agreed to leverage on ANC and immunization visits to share SRHR information and services with the young mothers. They also committed to establishing group antenatal care to encourage more pregnant adolescent girls to come to the health facility to seek help and information and to better understand their concerns.
The health workers proposed that more capacity-building training for health workers be provided and that focal people be identified and sent to health facilities on specific days to speak with adolescents.
The one-day training also created a platform for health workers to share and remind them about the patient’s charter by taking them through their rights as health workers to the patient; create a space to share experiences, learn, and dialogue on strategies to improve adolescent health and well-being; and also come up with a joint plan for the Young Mothers Forums (YMFs) on the basic concepts of safe motherhood.
By the end of the training, the health workers were motivated and committed to putting the skills they had learned in the provision of quality sexual and reproductive health services into practice in a way that encourages young people to seek them rather than avoid them.
They further committed to starting group antenatal in their respective health facilities for pregnant adolescent girls as a way of promoting privacy and encouraging them to come to the health facility.