Adolescent-Friendly Health Service Launched within 3 of the PHCC HCs
The Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) has begun implementing an adolescent-friendly health service in select health centres (HCs), namely Al Rayyan, West bay and Madinat Khalifa HCs, aiming at improving health outcomes for adolescents through the prevention and management of identified risk factors such as accidents, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), risky behaviours, mental health and adolescent reproductive health. The adolescent-friendly health service is among the priorities of the National Primary Health Care Strategy (NPHCS).
In designing and providing a service specifically tailored for adolescents, the latter are empowered to cope with the physical and mental health changes they are going through, and with the challenges that they might be exposed to throughout this key developmental phase, taking into account their individual needs and in turn enabling them to build a successful future.
“The programme aims at detecting health-related problems among adolescents at an early stage”, states Dr. Sadriya Al Kohji, Head of Child and Adolescent Health within PHCC. It provides high-quality health care that can be accessed in a timely manner, acceptable, appropriate and effective for adolescents, in cooperation with other key stakeholders, which include the family, community, school, government and private institutions. Furthermore, PHCC has ensured that staff providing the service have undergone extensive training to ensure it is delivered by experts and specialist consultants in adolescent health.
Dr. Al Kohji further explains, “The detection of health-related problems among adolescents is done through the assessment of health status, measurement of the growth standards, clinical examination, vision screening and anaemia. It will also include an assessment of difficulties faced by the adolescent at home within the family environment, problems within the school setting, and learning difficulties. Moreover, risky behaviours, such as overuse or misuse of social media, and mental illnesses, including depression, hyperactivity, autism, anorexia nervosa, addiction, violence, will be assessed, along with sexual and reproductive health. The service promotes healthy behaviour and interaction between adolescents and their parents or guardians, according to evidence-based best practices”.
Dr. Al Kohji has added that all adolescents accessing the aforementioned health centers for any medical concern will be given a subsequent appointment to benefit from the adolescent-friendly service. Health care providers within PHCC will obtain parental consent prior to the appointment and the provision of the service.
Adolescents are likely to only require a visit every two years, with a total of three visits between the ages of 10 and 18; the second and third of which will be booked by the adolescent’s guardians at the health center. Should the first assessment indicate the need for additional care, the adolescent will either be given another appointment with the same doctor or referred to other parties, with the guardian’s knowledge.
As highlighted by Dr. Al Kohji, “family and community are the key pillars in an adolescent’s life. Adolescents depend on their families, the surrounding environment, schools, health services to acquire a wide range of important skills that can help them deal successfully with the challenges they face in the transition from childhood to adulthood”.