An exploration of school health nurses’ understanding and experiences of adolescent sexual and reproductive health programme in a selected health district in KwaZulu-Natal.
Khuzwayo, Patience Primrose.
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Introduction: Unprotected sexual activity has a negative effect to the reproductive health of adolescence, because they are physically immature and are at risk of unwanted pregnancy. Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) programmes form the backbone of school health package for school health nurses (SHNs) dealing with adolescent health. The SRH is vital in addressing sexually transmitted infections, unplanned teenage pregnancies and abortions being experienced by adolescents globally. However in South Africa, there is a high prevalence of Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV) in adolescents aged between 15 and 24 years. While globally unsafe abortions accounts for the main cause for adolescents’ mortality. The SHNs are the most suitable health professionals to promote students sexual health in the school settings. The SHNs should have skills that will facilitate access to information and resources to decrease the negative consequences of early, unprotected, or forced sexual intercourse. Aim: The purpose of this study was to explore the selected SHNs’ understanding and experiences of the implementation of the adolescents’ SRH programmes in a selected health district in KwaZulu Natal. Methodology: This study adopted a qualitative approach utilizing a descriptive and exploratory research design. Non-probability purposive sampling was employed to select participants and a semi-structured interviews guided collect data. A total of seven school health nurses participated in the study. Data was analysed using descriptive content analysis. Findings: The study findings revealed the five major themes which were consistent with the objectives of the study. The SHNs demonstrated a much understanding of adolescents’ SHR programmes and had both positive and negative experiences on the implementation of the programme. Most of the SHNs acknowledged that they were inadequately equipped with knowledge and skills to provide high-quality and comprehensive adolescents’ SRH programmes. In spite of the challenges faced by SHNs it was also found that there were some positive experiences that enabled them to continue with the implementation of the SRH programme to the adolescents. Conclusion: The SHNs had an understanding of what the program entails as well as their role in its implementation. The SHNs had limited resource but did their best to implementing the programmes. However, it is necessary that the SHNs are equipped with the necessary skills and teaching resources to increase their effectiveness in the implementing of adolescents’ sexual and reproductive programme.