Original Research

Building capacity to facilitate policy implementation: A short course in adolescent and youth health in South Africa

B. Jane Ferguson, Nadia Ahmed, Feni M.M. Motshwane, Melanie Pleaner, Elona Toska, Helen A. Weiss, Linda-Gail Bekker
Journal of Public Health in Africa | Vol 13, No 1 | a350 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4081/jphia.2022.1855 | © 2024 B. Jane Ferguson, Nadia Ahmed, Feni M.M. Motshwane, Melanie Pleaner, Elona Toska, Helen A. Weiss, Linda-Gail Bekker | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 April 2024 | Published: 24 May 2022

About the author(s)

B. Jane Ferguson, Independent Consultant, Adolescent Health Tannay, Switzerland
Nadia Ahmed, Mortimer Market Centre, Central North West London, NHS Trust, United Kingdom
Feni M.M. Motshwane, National Department of Health, South Africa
Melanie Pleaner, Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Elona Toska, Centre for Social Science Research, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Helen A. Weiss, MRC International Statistics & Epidemiology Group, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom
Linda-Gail Bekker, Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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In order to respond more effectively to the health of young people in South Africa, in 2017 the National Department of Health of South Africa released the National Adolescent and Youth Health Policy. The Policy focused on a range of health problems and recommended interventions for delivery through multiple settings and government departments. It also included specific recommendations to empower and involve young people in policy and programme implementation. Adaptation of a short course on adolescent health in lowand middle-income countries, organized annually by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the World Health Organization, was piloted in 2017 as one means of contributing to the implementation of the Policy. The Adolescent and Youth Health Policy short course was subsequently offered in 2018 and 2019, attracting 96 participants working on adolescent health in various organizations at national and provincial levels throughout the country. Most participants (75%) successfully completed the course, as assessed by the completion criteria that had been defined. The range of topics for the assignments selected by the participants over the 3 years reflected both the content and intent of the Policy. The evaluations of the short course indicate that it helped to create legitimacy and strengthen the capacity of various constituencies, both of which are important prerequisites for policy implementation.


adolescent health; health policy; implementation; short course; South Africa; youth health


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