NACOSA was happy to work with the SAMRC once again on a research paper published in the Frontiers in Health Services looking at lessons learned from implementing health and education interventions for adolescent girls and young women during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with reduced access to health services and worsening health outcomes for HIV and sexual and reproductive health. Through the analysis of data from an evaluation study of a combination intervention for adolescent girls and young women in South Africa, the paper examines the way in which implementation and service provision were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions, describing the adaptation implementers made to respond to this context. The intervention is part of our Global Fund programming and was implemented from 2019 in South African districts identified as high priority, given the high rates of HIV and teenage pregnancy amongst young women.
The COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, including the closure of schools, and social distancing measures, have had significant impacts on the implementation of the intervention for young women, undermining service provision, impeding recruitment and retention of beneficiaries, and heightening issues around community
acceptability of the intervention. Evidence of the disruptions to healthcare access during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, and the national health
system crisis brought about by the pandemic, highlight how critical it is for interventions, programs and health systems to be flexible enough to respond and adapt to remain resilient in the face of multiple stressors, and for service providers to adopt sustainable and innovative strategies and platforms to ensure the continued delivery of sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial services to adolescent girls and young women in South Africa.