On Friday, Lamontville Clinic in conjunction with the Durban Health Systems Trust launched a youth-friendly facility aimed at providing young people with their own space in the clinic where they can have their needs addressed. The Daily Vox spoke to young people from the community to find out their main concerns and whether they plan to use the facility.
Siyamukela Gumede, 23, student, Lamontville
I visit the clinic regularly for different reasons but there are times when I’d walk in and find familiar faces looking at me. It’s very frustrating because one ends up feeling judged already. I’m really glad now that there’s a space created specially for us where we can come in at any time and seek help; things will be easier. I just hope that more young people will put it to good use because the clinic went all out just for us, it’s only fair that we utilise the space.
Mzi Mthembu, nursing services manager said the clinic’s main objective is to curb the increase in HIV infections among adolescents and young people and minimise teenage pregnancy and illnesses such as sexually transmitted diseases.
“This service is not only about health services but it is also about information sharing, where young people can come and acquire necessary information regarding social problems,” he said.
Nomthandazo Mvelase, 25, student, Lamontville
I don’t come to the clinic often and that’s because of the service from the staff. Sometimes I even prefer to go to a hospital [rather] than here. Their behaviour makes one never wish to return to the clinic, especially the way they speak to the patients particularly young people. Having an environment that will deal with only young people is really great, some youngsters don’t visit the clinic with the fear of being seen by people they know, even elders from their families. I foresee some young people coming in but I don’t think it will change much, we as young people are a problem on our own. We are very judgemental towards each other.
Melizwe Nxumalo, 21, student, Lamontville
Young people are preoccupied with different things in their lives; we have a lot to deal with including studies. To go all out and say they are creating a space for us is a bit tricky; the only people they might be able to convince to come to the clinic are the scholars. This would be a perfect project in rural areas where people are not doing anything but not here in a township. Also, most people are still not used to the idea of going to the clinic whenever they are sick because they will be forced to get tested, and that alone brings fear to them. This would only work if parents also played a part and showed interest in their children’s health.
Ward councillor, Eunice Dube said she was relieved that there’s now a youth centre that will help the youngsters to communicate better with the health care staff.
“Our children are shy to open up to us as their parents so having a facility that will cater for them and provide them with someone who is not out of their age group will be helpful. They will finally be able come forward and seek help at any given time,” she said.
Nosipho Mkhize, 19, student, Lamontville
I believe in regular checkups so I visit the clinic regularly, but sometimes it becomes difficult to open up about what brings you to the clinic. The staff is not friendly and that affects us, that’s why most young people don’t really like the idea of visiting the clinic. But with the newly launched programme, I hope more youngsters will start visiting the clinic and that whatever the objective of this project is will be achieved.
Sandile Majola, 22, student, Lamontville
Walking into a clinic full of elderly people usually feels very uncomfortable. Although everyone comes to the clinic to mind their own business, sometimes I feel like they are watching me too. My visits here are mostly for getting tested and I end up feeling paranoid that all these old people will see my status. I’m just happy that now I will be able to visit the clinic without the fear of being watched by elders and them finding out about my affairs. I am optimistic that this programme will definitely bring change in the community.