With the advent of technology, the advocacy on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) concerns of individuals has drastically improved over the years. Digital and electronic platforms are used consistently in our everyday lives for social interaction and getting information. And these platforms are also used in addressing the concerns of people, especially the youth on matters relating to SRHR. On Thursday 7th May 2020, we had an enlightening twitter chat on the topic “Using electronic/digital platforms in addressing the SRHR concerns of individuals”.
The resource person was Dorcas Manortey, an mHealth Innovator expert with UNFPA Ghana. Just at the beginning of the chat, she first explained that, “electronic/digital platforms are places where young people find safe to learn and discuss issues of interest and to connect with their peers without necessarily being present. Example Twitter. This is facilitated with digital devices such as mobile phones, laptops”.
In reality, some societies do not give individuals the freedom to express themselves or ask questions on SRHR. In our context where open discussion on SRHR issues such as menstruation, sex are abhorred, digital platforms become an important tool for individual as it offers the needed privacy, anonymity and diversity to knowledge without any form of fear or stigma. Some examples of platforms UNFPA Ghana uses for SRHR work are listed in the following categories;
*YMK app (You Must Know App)
*SDA app (Safe Delivery App)
2. Web-based platforms e.g WAWA ABA Solution
3. YouTube – UNFPA Orange Vibes
4. Grace Health
These platforms are easily accessible by all.
They have been specially designed for young people (male-female) living in Ghana between the ages of 10-24 years and who have access to digital devices like the mobile phone. Also, service providers, parents and teachers in Ghana can make use of the platform. They have been specially designed with the needs/interest of users at heart. There are some interesting features like cartoons & videos. Also, considering internet costs, the platforms allow for both online & offline access. They can be accessible from Play Store or App Store”. As an mHealth Innovator, Miss Manortey uses design thinking to ideate & co-create innovation solution that uses technology & digital platforms to facilitate behavior change, while advancing SRHR/FP access among young people. Her role also involves strengthening a partnership with NGOs & other youth-led organizations to ensure young people’s SRHR needs are met.
UNFPA GHANA has over 50 years experience in the use of advanced technology for communicating, training, and advancing the SRHR agenda and needs of young people. Amidst this Covid19 situation too. The organization has organized various e-workshops for young people. Their work has seen tremendous improvement in addressing individuals’ concerns on SRHR. A report by UNFPA Ghana indicates that over 1000 young people in Ghana are reached every month with SRHR information via these platforms. Kindly follow the link to access this report https://t.co/P6iUdwFCBk
Miss Manortey further explained how the success of their work is measured. She said that with advanced technology, it is easy to assess and evaluate the impact of platforms on the user, using the inbuilt dashboard on the platform. Stories also shared by users about their experience and impact they have had from using such platforms helps to measure their work. She also added that UNFPA Ghana has a well-structured M&E framework that facilitates easy monitoring and evaluation of projects.
As the leading organization in the advancement of mHealth in Ghana, UNFPA GHANA has adopted the technology of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning in addition to their existing innovations to addressing SRHR/FP issues. One of their latest innovations is WAWA ABA Solution, a web-based platform which is yet to be made accessible to the public.
mHealth innovators in Ghana are not many as compared to influencers according to Miss Manortey. She listed a few individuals in Ghana who are mHealth innovators. These are seen in the image below
1. Dela Gle- @UNFPAGHANA,
2.@being_Sharifa – GHS, Jacob Larbi – AfriConsult who have both local & international expertise in mHealth innovation.
Our last question sought to find out innovative ways other organizations can adopt in addressing SRHR concerns. Miss Manortey said that ” It is important to note that your choicest innovation is greatly determined by your target population. Meanwhile, organizations can consider the technology of AI as it will help provide SRHR/SGBV solutions for all persons including persons with special needs.”
Electronic/Digital platforms are very important tools in addressing SRHR concerns of individuals. As we are all catching up with new invents of technology, organizations must also adopt innovative ways in their work.