A multi-million shilling centre that targets to help the youth address issues of adolescence, health and sexuality has been set up in Eldoret.
The Rafiki Centre for Excellence in Adolescent Health, which cost more than Sh4 million is situated at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH).
It is a joint venture between MTRH, Moi University’s School of Medicine, Indiana University and the county government of Uasin Gishu.
The centre, which is one of its kind in the region, will cater for more than 1,400 youth including street children, orphans and vulnerable children.
Speaking during the centre’s launch, MTRH Chief Executive Officer, Dr Wilson Aruasa, said that the youth face a lot of challenges including HIV/Aids, reproductive health and mental health problems among others.
“Adolescents are a population who in the past have received little attention during programming, both locally and internationally.
“The centre will become a hub for research and clinical activities to care for these often neglected population,” said Dr Aruasa.
The clinic is a model of multi-disciplinary outpatient clinical and research centre which will provide comprehensive healthcare services to adolescents and youth between the ages of 10-24 years and support various research activities.
SPECIALISED REFERRAL HOSPITAL
“This will make MTRH a truly specialised referral hospital and we are very happy and we want to thank our partners for working very well with us. It will also take care of issues of gender-based violence,” added Dr Aruasa.
Moi University’s Dean of School of Medicine, Prof Lukoye Atwoli, said that since 1989, the university and a number of American universities led by Indiana University’s School of Medicine have worked together to deliver health services and conduct research.
“Adolescents being a [special] group of people living with the HIV have unique characteristics and challenges, especially during [the] transition from teenage to young adulthood.
“Adolescents and their caregivers often do not access the health and social services due to lack of information and fear of stigma,” said Prof Atwoli.
According to him, the main aim of the centre is to have a one-stop shop for adolescents to receive youth friendly services besides HIV care.
Among the services which will be offered at the Rafiki Clinic include reproductive health, mental health, management of chronic diseases, HIV prevention and treatment services, among others.
Youth who spoke about the newly-launched centre lauded the initiative, which they noted will assist them better understand issues of sexuality and avoid the spread of the HIV scourge.
“At least we have a youth resource centre where we can get help and access youth-friendly services.
“Most of us have been shying away because we have nowhere to air our problems,” said Ms Whitney Biegon, a peer mentor and educator with AMPATH.