JIS News

Ground was broken on Thursday (March 10) for the establishment of a Teen Hub in St. Thomas, through which adolescents in the parish can access a range of clinical, educational, and social services in a safe environment.

The US$200,000 facility, which will be situated on Church Street in Morant Bay, will offer mental health screening/counselling and referrals, reproductive health services, HIV testing and counselling, pregnancy tests, assistance with homework and school-based assessments, skills training, health fairs, among others.

Establishment of the facility is being undertaken through the Spotlight Initiative, which involves the Government of Jamaica, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) system in Jamaica.

It will model the Teen Hub at the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre in St. Andrew, which was opened in November 2017 through the collaborative effort of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Ministry of Health and Wellness, and the Ministry of Education and Youth.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Hon. Juliet Cuthbert Flynn, who delivered the keynote address at the ground-breaking, said that the plethora of services to be provided at the St. Thomas Teen Hub will empower young people in their decision-making.

The State Minister commended the partners for collaborating with the Government on the project, which she noted, aims to promote healthy lifestyle and skills development for optimal well-being, particularly within the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“As Jamaica joins the rest of the world in addressing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that the response takes into account the maintenance of critical services for youth and adolescents who, during this time of isolation or quarantine, have reduced access to traditional health facilities. Therefore, it is important that a minimum package of health services is provided to this cohort during and after the pandemic,” she said.

Acting UN Resident Coordinator, Mariko Kagoshima, in her remarks, said that the organisation and its partners are pleased to support the availability of adolescent-friendly services in Jamaica.

She noted that the UN has committed to expanding the teen hub model to at least five additional locations across the country over the next two years.

Head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica, Ambassador Marianne Van Steen, said she was pleased with the support that will be provided to young people in St. Thomas through the teen hub.

During the period of January to December 2019, a total of 7,000 adolescents accessed skills-based, mental health, career guidance, HIV and pregnancy-prevention education at the Half-Way Tree Teen Hub, with some 879 receiving HIV counselling and testing.

From January to December 2021, approximately 3,350 young persons accessed services at the facility, with 735 receiving HIV counselling and testing.

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