Three days of intensive interactions has significantly strengthened the linkages between Lesotho’s 10 FutureLife-Now! schools and their nearby health facilities.
FutureLife-Now! Country Manager, Rantsane Kuleile, said that the main purpose of the development of a referral system was to ensure leaners in all 10 schools were aware and able to access care in supportive, friendly health facilities.
“This is in line with one of the FutureLife-Now! programme’s objectives, which is to increase access to youth-friendly HIV, sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR) and ART adherence support and services, using a school-based delivery model.”
The FutureLife-Now! team’s three-day workshop with health professionals in Lesotho was a first important step towards strengthening linkages between health and education in all 10 schools.
When welcoming participants to the workshop, Kuleile asked everyone to be as open and interactive as possible. “We hope to come out of the three days with a working document for Lesotho, on systems strengthening.”
Mathato Nkuatsana, the Adolescent Health Programme Manager at the Ministry of Health (MoH), stated that the schools’ health programme is part of the ministry’s policy and strategies. “Thus, health facilities should be implementing this through outreach to all their nearby schools and not only to ten FutureLife-Now! schools.” She added that the good lessons learned from the ten schools and their relationships to health facilities need to be replicated with all schools in the vicinity.
During the three days there were intensive interactions. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats were analysed, and a draft protocol for a referral system was developed. Health facility personnel also drafted plans on how they would implement school health programmes to support the schools in their communities.
Speaking on behalf of the participants MoH Public Health Nurse, Mampho Mafereka, thanked FutureLife-Now! for reminding them of what they should be doing to support young people. “The workshop gave new ideas as well as acting as a refresher training. Now we are going back to our workplace with a clear understanding of the issues and a roadmap of what to do as soon as we get back to the office.”
The outcome of the workshop was the development of a standardised referral protocol which was developed to be tested, and eventually finalised for printing and general circulation.
The main purpose of this referral protocol is to ensure an effective referral system, to strengthen linkages between health and education; and to ensure that young people are aware of and able to access care at health facilities, schools, and community-based organisations.