Face it, our children are having sex – Zuma
South Africans should face the reality that “our children are having sex”, President Jacob Zuma said at the launch of a programme that will bring health services – including the distribution of condoms and HIV testing – to schools.
“It is a fact that young people are at risk of teenage pregnancy and contracting sexual transmitted infection. We have to accept this and react to it so that we can reduce the pain,” Zuma said in Cullinan near Pretoria.
From next week, the department of health’s mobile clinics will start visiting schools in the 10 districts that are piloting a national heath insurance (NHI) system across the country as part of the school health programme.
The clinics will offer basic health services including family planning, immunisation, eye care and dental care.
But health services that involve sexual and reproductive health – such as contraception, condom distribution, circumcision and HIV testing – will only be offered at schools where parents and the school governing bodies have discussed and agreed to it.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said: “We cannot wait for children to get sick and then come to our hospitals. It is for this reason that we are going to school to prevent teenage pregnancies and diseases.”
Jabulile Mogoaduba (19), a Grade 11 pupil at Chipa Tabane Secondary School in Cullinan said she was excited that the nurses would now be coming to their school.
“It would save time and money and I believe we would be more comfortable to enquire about family planning and other things without thinking who is seeing or listening to me,” she said.
Her friend, Portia Maluleke, shared the same sentiments.
Maluleke (16) said: “Sometimes you want to visit the wellness unit at the clinic but feel that people from the community will be judging and gossiping behind your back. I think bringing nurses to school will help a lot of people as well as prevent unwanted pregnancies.”
David Mthimkhulu (16), a fellow pupil, recently started dating and wants to know more about sexual health but he is afraid to go to the local clinic because his aunt works there.
“I have heard about circumcision and how it prevents HIV and I want to do it but don’t know how to ask my parents because they will think I’m having sex.
“So now with the mobile clinic coming to our school, I am told nurses will tell us more about it and how we could can go about doing it,” he explained.
Although the school health programme will be rolled out in the piloting districts, it will be expanded to the other 42 districts in South Africa in the next few years.
The services will be offered at the poorest schools first.