South African youth design their own national health policy

SA youth health policy workshop

Dr Rebecca Hodes, DSPI Research Associate and Director of the AIDS and Society Research Unit at the University of Cape Town, and Prof Lucie Cluver, DSPI Professor of Child and Family Social Work, have collaborated with the South African (SA) National Department of Health and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to write the National Adolescent and Youth Health Policy.

The policy was developed by combining: 1) evidence-based review on the 10 priority areas for youth health conducted by leading experts in each topic, including doctoral student in social intervention Craig Carty; 2) high-level expert consultations; and 3) input from young people, caregivers, healthcare and social service providers collected as part of the Mzantsi Wakho adolescent health research project (Quantitative PI: Cluver, Qualitative PI: Hodes), Sinovuyo Teen research project (PI: Cluver) and Teen Advisory Group. The final version of the National Adolescent and Youth Health Policy 2017 was approved by the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, in August 2017.

In September 2017, investigators of the Mzantsi Wakho research project (Dr Hodes and Dr Toska), co-developed and co-delivered a short-course on the National Adolescent and Youth Health Policy with colleagues from the Desmond Tutu Foundation and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The course was attended by 33 health managers from national and provincial health departments, international and national non-governmental organizations working in adolescent and youth health. Dr Hodes led a session on adolescent participation, while Dr Toska focused on social protection. Dr Toska is mentoring 4 of the participants to implement the Adolescent and Youth Health Policy in their daily work.

We thank the following funders for supporting our participatory research and consultation with adolescent, youth and caregiver consultations: the Nuffield Foundation, the International AIDS Society (CIPHER), Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V., part of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, the Evidence for HIV Prevention in Southern Africa (EHPSA), a DFID programme managed by Mott MacDonald, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Regional Inter-Agency Task Team for Children Affected by AIDS - Eastern and Southern Africa, the European Research Council, SA National Research Foundation, University of Oxford’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, UNICEF, UNICEF Innocenti Office of Research, UNFPA, ELMA Philanthropies, HEARD at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the SA National Department of Social Development, the Clarendon-Green Templeton College Scholarship Fund, the Oak Foundation, the John Fell Fund and the Philip Leverhulme Trust. We also particularly thank the Teen Advisory Group (TAG Team) for their invaluable input into this policy.