Case Studies

Adolescents’ Health Matters

Health is not typically something that comes to mind when thinking of adolescents. Adolescents actually have a complex array of health needs that can seem invisible to others, including sexual and reproductive health and mental health. It can be difficult for them to access care for these health needs for multiple reasons – the associated stigma, not available during office hours because of school and or work, and not really knowing how to navigate healthcare systems. This program responded to this need through public campaigning, community services and youth engagement.

The Adolescents’ Health Matters launched its first project, “HIV Run 2019” to celebrate the appointment of Her Royal Highness Princess Somsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarinatha of Thailand as the UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for HIV Prevention for the Asia-Pacific Region, World AIDS Day, and to increase public awareness of the ongoing challenge of HIV infections continuing to affect mostly adolescents. Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendira Debyavati graciously opened and took part in this event which was also attended by senior ministers from the Ministry of Public Health and the President of Chulalongkorn University as well as over 3000 runners.

In addition to this campaign the Department of Pediatrics, Chulalongkorn University initiated a “community adolescent service” that proactively engaging HIV at risk adolescents in urban areas to provide community-based health knowledge and care for youth.  A team of medical students and pediatricians visit The Child Homeless shelter, ‘The Hub’ in Hua Lampong district at bimonthly intervals and provide an opportunity for staff to consult them on basic management of medical issues with linkage to King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital for further medical care where needed.

“There is a large need for HIV and sexual healthcare for young people in a large metropolis like Bangkok, especially those in vulnerable communities. To ensure this work is sustainable, we must also produce graduates that will continue this work in the future. This project provides medical students with firsthand experience of this health issue and a platform to develop the passion and skills to tackle this independently following graduation. We also work with NGOs, and the Ministry of Public Health in effort to incorporate this model of health delivery into standard health services available,” said Associate Professor Thanyawee Puthanakit, MD.

‘This project has helped us to look after our children and youth better, we feel more supported and more secure there is somewhere we can call for help when we need it,’ said Ms Kaew, teacher and counsellor at The Hub.

Youth engagement was a strategy used to reach adolescents. On Valentines’ Day 2020, a health fair was held in Siam Square One and attracted attendance of over 500 adolescents from more than 30 schools to join activities such as HIV testing, health counselling, and fun activities such as live adolescent-led visual performances in collaboration with adolescent health NGO Path2Health. Furthermore, all health services provided in “The Adolescents’ Health Matters” project utilize mobile health technologies, healthcare delivery and medical consultations delivered online to increase convenience and efficiency in service provision. With the popularity of mobile phone use in adolescent circles this has been well received by service users, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and is set to expand in future operations by the Adolescents’ Health Matters Project Team.

“We have integrated all aspects of care needed to provide adolescent centered healthcare that emphases well-being of clients. The adolescent clinic is friendly with non-judgmental staff, flexible service hours, and emphasis on privacy. Moreover, this project integrated novel medical services including mobile health technologies through world-class research conducted in conjunction with the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Center, the International AIDS Society and Duke University. We believe this is a good model that brings together the strengths of health stakeholders to deliver excellent adolescent health promotion and care,” said Dr Wipaporn Natalie Songtaweesin, MD.

The project has had multiple level impacts in increasing inner-city adolescent youth access of HIV and sexual health services, enriched medical education at Chulalongkorn University and also strengthened working collaborations Chulalongkorn University has with national and international stakeholders in producing sustainable and high-level impacts on adolescent health.

Attendance by Public Health Ministers and Chulalongkorn University
Valentines’ Day Event, Siam Square One

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