The objective of the programme is to educate learners on the health and social issues facing young people, identify and addressing any barriers to learning, and to make health services available to children in a safe environment.
“We are happy that nurses come to our school to check our health and to hear if we have problems at home or school,” said Thabiso Mofokeng, a 15-year-old learner at the school.
A nurse from the Department of Health and loveLife Groundbreakers (youth facilitators) spoke to the group of young people about topics such as personal and environmental hygiene, HIV, TB and sexual reproductive health, which looks at issues such as menstruation, contraception, sexually transmitted infections, male medical circumcision and teenage pregnancy.
“We are scared to talk to our parents about sex and sexuality issues, but it was easy to talk to the loveLife Groundbreakers, and they gave us all the necessary and correct information,’ said the 14-year-old Xaba Thabile.
After the educational talks, the children were broken up into groups of five where their oral health, vision, hearing and speech were screened, they underwent nutritional-, physical-, and mental health assessments, they were tested for TB, and offered psychological support and immunisations. Each child also had a one-on-one talk with the nurse to discuss any confidential issues. A consent form signed by both the learner and his or her parents is required before a child can receive screening or assessment.
“Health education is good as it teaches the learners how to take care of themselves and also addresses the social issues that they face. The screening will help us as educators to understand the special health and psychological needs of our learners, and also help identify learners with nutritional and psychological problems that can have an impact in their learning,” said Mrs Smith, a teacher at Paul Roux Intermediate School.
Assistant nurse with the Integrated School Health Programme, M.J. Mokoena, said that she finds being a school health nurse to be fun and interesting. ‘We provide the children with full information to make them understand what we are really doing, because many have the wrong perception that we only do HIV testing, and many but don’t know that we provide full medical screening,” said Mokoena.
* Thamsanqa Majola is an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from the the Thabo Mofutsanyana health district in the Free State.