African Youth Develop Sexual Reproductive Health Mobile App

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In short
The app enables a young person to ask questions without necessarily mentioning his names, report sex abuse crimes and connect to other youth with similar problems.


Youth from over 20 African countries have developed a mobile application to convey sexual reproductive health friendly information to youth.

The youth drawn from Uganda, Mali, Madagascar, Senegal, Nigeria and South Africa among others spent three days developing the app.

Sponsored by UNFPA's Innovation Fund, the mobile app is aimed at  promoting young people's access to sexual and reproductive health information.

The group code named Put It On, out competed other six groups via creation of  a youth friendly mobile app that would enable the youth to get services on their phones without breaching their privacy.

The app enables a young person to ask questions without necessarily mentioning their names, report sex abuse crimes and connect to other youth with similar problems.

According to the United Nations resident coordinator, Ahunna Eziakonwa although the number of teenagers cannot access the smart phones, the UN is to fund the team such that the innovation can be used by non-smart phone users.

She adds that the group will also be helped to boost the reach of the app by having it in different languages for the benefit of  youths who cannot understand English.

She said that in Africa, many teenagers are faced by the challenges involved with body changes, sexuality, teenage pregnancies and sexual harassment but in most cases have no avenues of privately sharing information.

Due to cultural and social norms related to sexuality, many parents and teachers are hesitant to pass on much important information related to sex and sexuality.

As a result, many girls make mistakes like unwanted pregnancies, HIV/aids reducing their chances of a better future.

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Eziakonwa believes that young people are born into an increasingly digital world, and more of them are using mobile technologies to connect, communicate and share information than ever before and communication.

She believes that it is via technology that policy implementers and partners can appeal to youth.

She says that the the pace of technological innovation has enabled an expansion in the reach of mobile networks, improving connectivity and access to information for millions of young people around the world.

She adds that it is a good gesture to see that young people are involved in finding solutions to their problems especially in sexual reproductive health.

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The app will help demystify youth myths like sex cures menstruation, pregnancy, sex and related issues.

According to the state minister for health, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, the current trend of children engaging in sexual activities is a challenge to promoting sexual and reproductive health for young people.

He said with teenage pregnancy rate, currently estimated at 25% for Uganda, the country needs serious interventions to change the trend.

He attributes the trend to lack of accurate sexual reproductive health information.

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Currently, over 27% of mothers who die annually in Uganda due to pregnancy and birth related complications are teenagers.

 

About the author

Beatrice Nyangoma
Beatrice Nyangoma values her independence as a journalist. This was one of her major considerations before she became a URN staffer in 2015.

Nyangoma says, "I like URN because it gives me room to decide what stories I want to work on. That is so important to me."

The URN Jinja bureau chief since July 2016, Nyangoma considers health matters a beat close to her heart. One of the highlights of her career so far were her exclusive interviews unveiling the rot in Mulago hospital in early 2016.

Nyangoma started out writing for the Red Pepper newspaper in 2011 in her final year of university. She was majorly a health reporter. In 2012, Nyangoma moved to Top Television as a health, business reporter and weekend news editor. She was also the assistant editorial manager of Kabarole Research and Resource Centre FM (KRC FM).