Health and sexual reproductive health rights

This includes continued and deeper focus on mental health; HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care; sexual and reproductive health and rights. We champion improved health for girls, boys, youth as well as families and communities.

1

Resilient, Empowered Adolescents & Young People Living with HIV (READY)

Where?

This programme aims to support adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV) to access sexual and reproductive health services. A consortium led by Frontline AIDS (formerly HIVAIDS Alliance) undertakes implementation. REPSSI is the psychosocial technical lead and coordinating partner in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Funders:

The READY programme includes: 

  • Community Adolescent Treatment Supporters (CATS). These are Adolescents Living with HIV (ALHIV) who support their peers to adhere to their treatment and access sexual reproductive health services (SRHR) with psychosocial support (PSS).
  • Engaging community and caregivers to reduce stigma around Adolescents Living with HIV.
  • Providing youth-friendly health facilities and service providers, and undertaking youth advocacy.
  • Skills training in collaboration with Africaid.

Impact: The READY+ Midterm Review

The review carried out in May 2019 found that the project is effectively addressing the needs of Adolescents Living with HIV (ALHIV) and has created cordial relationships and cooperation between the health facilities, ALHIV and the community. Services offered at health facilities are more integrated and  include sexual reproductive health services, lab services, counselling and psychosocial support. However, young people are still afraid of accidental disclosure of their HIV status.

Our Achievements in the READY programme:

  • Three Community Adolescent Treatment Supporters are enrolled in the certificate programme in psychosocial care and support at the University of Eswatini (UNESWA), with financial support from Frontline AIDS.
  • A digital application was developed to promote treatment adherence and collaboration with SPIDER in Mozambique to develop a digital map of all adolescent sexual and reproductive health services in Maputo and Beira.
  • Creating safe spaces, which allow Adolescents Living with HIV (ALHIV) to share their innermost thoughts. They can raise concerns about the stigma they encounter. Participants freely discuss issues in the safe spaces but struggle with disclosure.
  • Introduction of a buddy system where two or three adolescents living close to one another support one another. Defaulter tracing and friends have significantly improved adherence. We have supported community conversations and engaged caregivers for them to speak with adolescents about sexual and reproductive health.
2

Enhanced access to and uptake of sexual and reproductive health and rights for girls, boys and youth in East and Southern Africa

Improved HIV outcomes for adolescent mothers
Where?
Funders:

We are focussing on prevention of new infections, access to testing, treatment and adherence to treatment.

The project focuses on:

  • Peer supporters working with groups of children and youth to enhance their psychosocial skills
  • Supporting schools to become enabling psychosocial environments
  • Training and support for health providers to improve their service delivery, without stigma and discrimination
  • Community conversations to encourage HIV prevention and testing, with reduction in stigma around HIV and national and regional participation in relevant comprehensive sexuality education and HIV technical working groups.
Reducing early and unintended pregnancies
Where?
Funders:

The programme addresses early and unintended pregnancies in school-going youth. The main elements of this programme are:

  • School clubs comprising girls and boys to enhance psychosocial skills such as esteem, communication, negotiation, positive relationship development, goal setting, decision making and become champions in their schools and communities.
  • Schools that are improving their psychosocial environment to promote wellbeing, safety, development of psychosocial skills and teaching of comprehensive sexuality education.
  • Communities that promote family communication on prevention of unintended pregnancy, access to sexual and reproductive health services.
  • National and regional engagement with relevant technical working groups to promote comprehensive sexuality education and access to sexual and reproductive health services; share experiences and learn together.
  • In Zambia, we are collaborating with UNESCO at country and regional level, and raising issues through engagement with the national Parliamentary working and technical groups for sexual reproductive health, rights and HIV.
  • In Angola, the project on reducing Early and Unintended Pregnancy is being implemented in Moxico province, a much-underserved area bordering Zambia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Department of Education, National Institute of Children (INAC) and the municipal administration.
  • REPSSI Namibia is also collaborating with UNESCO to promote the national campaign ending Early and Unintended Pregnancy (EUP). In November REPSSI and MoEAC trained teachers from ten selected schools in comprehensive sexuality education and assessing the school’s psychosocial environment.  The project will be launched in Kunene after the national EUP campaign launch in early 2020.
3

Prevention of gender-based violence (GBV)

Reducing early and unintended pregnancies
Where?
Funders:

REPSSI was contracted by Mott MacDonald, through the Government Capacity Building and Support Programme (GCBS) to train and mentor partners working with orphans and vulnerable children across eight provinces in South Africa.

  • A series of workshops were conducted with journalists; civil society organisations; government departments; youth and church leaders to discuss the SADC Minimum Package of Services and Psychosocial Conceptual Framework and to generate ideas on ways in which each group could contribute to the realisation of these services for children.
4

Improved outcomes for adolescent mothers

Reducing early and unintended pregnancies
Where?
Funders:

The REPSSI project on improved outcomes for adolescent mothers includes:

  • Setting up support groups for adolescent mothers which meet regularly
  • Engaging with significant people in the adolescent mother’s life
  • Training health workers on adolescent-friendly maternal and child health services to encourage early access to services such as antenatal care and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV.

The project is being delivered in Zimbabwe, with support from UNICEF in several districts as well as SDC in districts affected by Cyclone Idai, and in Malawi in partnership with the YWCA, funded by Sweden.

Globally REPSSI is engaging with the Coalition for Children affected by AIDS (CCABA) to draw more attention to addressing the needs of adolescent mothers living with HIV.

5

Mental health and psychosocial support

The mental health aspects of COVID-19 have been widely acknowledged across the globe and the support that REPSSI can bring is therefore greatly appreciated given the level of attention that mental health has received as a result.

  • During the Covid-19 global pandemic, REPSSI has been quick to find new and alternative ways of working for example use of radio, telephone counselling and Whatsapp. We will continue to acquire capacity in these areas of work through research and innovation.
  • REPSSI has adapted global MHPSS guidelines such as; Mhgap, UNHCR and UNICEF MHPSS guidelines and the WHO IASC MHPSS minimum standards. We use the IASC pyramid below to guide us in developing mental health programs in humanitarian settings and normal programming.

In addition, REPSSI uses the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030 which all national Ministries of Health have endorsed. Its four objectives are to:

  • Strengthen effective leadership and governance for mental health.
  • Provide comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings.
  • Implement strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health.
  • Strengthen information systems, evidence and research for mental health.
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