In 2019, Youth Alive established two adolescent reproductive health centres in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality of the Upper East region. The purpose of these centres was to strengthen adolescent sexual and reproductive health education by offering easy access to staff, equipment and a welcoming environment for young people seeking such services. A third centre was established in Domwine, in the Lawra district of the Upper West region in 2021.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were calls from communities and health workers, particularly in Domwine, to turn the adolescent centres into clinics because apart from sexual and reproductive health services it meant that other medical problems could be treated. This became even more necessary as a preventative measure as there was a need to reduce overcrowding at the main health centres/hospitals due to COVID infections. The Domwine community is quite a distance away from the main health centre.
The problem remained that although the three centres contributed to a reduction in crowds at the main health facilities, they either lacked or did not have adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to effectively reduce the risk of infection. This was relevant to both health workers and visitors because they became reluctant to go to the centres.
In order to facilitate the protection and safety of young people visiting the reproductive health centres, all three clinics received PPE and other items including; hand sanitisers, liquid soap, face masks, face shields, an infrared thermometer, a blood pressure machine, weighing scales, disposable gloves, rolls of paper hand towels, a Veronica bucket, a Veronica bucket stand, a receptacle for dirty water, a dustbin and dustbin lining.
Thanks to support from the ICT COVID Relief Fund and the Rotary Club of Coventry the provision of PPE and other medical equipment enhanced the service provided by the centres. A community health nurse in one of the centres said, “we have become more efficient since receiving the items. I no longer juggle between the main facility and the adolescent centre for some basic items such as the blood pressure machine and scales.”
At the same time, there has been a reduction in the spread of COVID-19 and many other diseases due to an improvement in both personal and environmental hygiene. There is now no litter from waste material at the centres because of the availability of dustbins. Previously, waste material used to be dumped on the ground and burnt once in a while. The dustbins are now emptied by a waste management company and taken to approved dumping sites. Frequent hand washing with soap and water is practised at the centres and local school children and communities have been encouraged to do the same at home.
This practice will be sustained with the aim of inculcating young people and communities to carry out a much improved standard of personal and environmental hygiene beyond COVID-19.