BACKGROUND: In South Sudan, it is a challenging task for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) to access comprehensive and integrated sexual reproductive health (SRH)services. Young people shy away from accessing services from health facilities, as services are deemed not youth friendly. This, coupled with entrenched, harmful patriarchy, gender disparities, and discrimination, resulting in AGYW having less involvement in their SRH rights and access in South Sudan.
DESCRIPTION: The Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe (DREAMS) initiative is implemented by Jhpiego under USAID/PEPFAR-funded ACHIEVE project in Juba, targeting out of school AGYW 15-24 years. It provides youth friendly services through 73 trained mentors, who refer and support, enrolled AGYW, to access and complete different clinical services using a community coordinated approach, where various providers come to the same site, for AGYW to access and complete different services of their choice and in accordance to their needs.
LESSONS LEARNED: A total of 4,119 AGYW (2,290 aged 15-19 and 1,829 age 20-24) in October 2022 to September 2023, were screened for HIV risk and enrolled in DREAMS. Of these, 82,7% (3,408) completed the life skills primary package that is inclusive of curriculum based, group facilitated sessions and 3,527 completed secondary services inclusive of HTS, PrEP, post GBV services, and STI screening and testing. Through this approach AGYW completed referrals to the following services: HTS: 3,021, STI screening and treatment: 338, family planning: 269, PrEP: 268, PEP: 7 and post-GBV: 235. This approach resulted in more than 300% increase in the number of AGYW completing secondary services, relative to FY 21 and FY 22.
CONCLUSIONS: Integration of multiple services, in DREAMS safe spaces using the community outreach approach, improves referral completion rate and allows AGYW to have the confidence to initiate and access desired health services in their own preferred community youth friendly space.