How to support adolescents with chronic conditions in their transition to adult healthcare?

More than 200 healthcare, education and social service professionals are trained in quality support for families

18 February 2022
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2019/Mary Gelman
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2019/Mary Gelman

NUR-SULTAN, October 27, 2021 - The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Kazakhstan, in partnership with the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan (MLSP), trained specialists from healthcare, education and social services organizations to provide quality support for children with chronic diseases and their families throughout the entire period of growing up. The training was attended by specialists from almost all regions of the Republic of Kazakhstan, with a priority of pilot regions - Almaty, East Kazakhstan, Karaganda, Turkestan regions and Almaty and Shymkent.

A chronic disease requires long-term and continuous dispensary observation in a medical organization. In childhood and adolescence, a chronic illness changes lifestyle. Children and adolescents living with chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, viral hepatitis B and C, HIV infection should be more aware of the medical aspects of their diseases in adulthood. Competent support of children and adolescents living with chronic diseases ensures their quality of life in the future. Accompaniment is recommended to be conducted in 3 directions: medical, psychological and social.

The training was conducted by a team of highly qualified UNICEF trainers - doctors, sociologists, psychologists. As part of the training, specialists received theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the following areas:

Modern approach to medical and social support of children with chronic diseases

  • overcoming stigma and discrimination
  • living with HIV and other chronic diseases
  • disclosing disease status
  • maintaining the confidentiality of information
  • protecting the rights of the child and the concept of child-friendly institutions with HIV and other chronic diseases.

Earlier in May 2021, for AIDS centers and PHC (primary health care) specialists, national experts developed a special algorithm for the transition of children with HIV to adult service upon reaching the age of 18, to improve the quality of services and prevent adolescents with HIV from falling out of under the supervision of experts. The algorithm is aimed at creating detailed instructions for specialists of the pediatric service, specialists of the "adult" service, parents / guardians on transferring children with chronic diseases to self-monitoring of their condition, self-visiting medical organizations and independently obtaining the necessary prescriptions and medicines.

“A correct transition of a teenager from a pediatric department to an “adult” one is one of the important factors in preserving the health of a teenager (young person) for the longest possible time, high quality of life and successful adaptation to social social life,” Alevtina Kuzheleva, Deputy Chief Physician of the Rehabilitation Center "Mother and Child", - Shymkent, says.

Today, according to the Kazakh Scientific Center for Dermatology and Infectious Diseases of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan, there are 580 children and adolescents with HIV in the country. In 2020, specialists from the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan and UNICEF assessed the implementation of national standards for psychosocial support for children and adolescents with chronic diseases in six pilot regions. Experts have identified cases of adolescents failing to take specific treatment for a chronic disease, deteriorating their physical and mental health during the transition to the "adult" medical service.

“The transition algorithm will be successfully implemented only with the close interaction of the AIDS and PHC service with the leading role of a social worker,” - UNICEF consultants: psychologist Madina Amanova and educational sociologist Ayagoz Aubakirova are sure.

“Every child has the right to a high quality of life. Particular attention should be paid to vulnerable children, children suffering from chronic diseases. In such cases, it is important to ensure a consistently high level of medical and social assistance, continuity of dynamic monitoring and effective treatment ,” - says Nodar Karimov, UNICEF Program Coordinator in Kazakhstan.

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