An innovative and creative mobile platform for young people, ilovelife.mobi, was launched today, 4 October 2016, in Madzikane Ka Zulu Memorial Hospital in Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape. With support from KfW Development Bank, loveLife in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Eastern Cape Department of Health launched the Clinic Locator #VisitYourClinic mobile platform for young people, which followed the piloting in 2015 of the iloveLife mobisite. The launch of the Clinic Locator and Rating Tool are intended to help young people between the ages 10-24 in the Eastern Cape access, locate and rate adolescent and youth friendly service. They will receive points for making informed lifestyle choices and can enter competitions to win prices.
Starting with 20 clinics in the Eastern Cape, including OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo, the Clinic Locator #VisitYourClinic campaign seeks to ensure that South Africa’s young people are more engaged with the healthcare clinics in their areas and help improve attitudes of staff towards them. Quality healthcare provision is critical to the programme, and as such, staff training has been provided at all 20 locations. The information collected will be used to strengthen the capacity of government services and their civil-society partners. Data collected will also be fed into South Africa’s national healthcare system at district and provincial levels. The information will then be used for evidence-based advocacy, to enhance the implementation of adolescent and youth-friendly services by integrating the lessons learned into the broader public health system.
Superintendent- General of the Eastern Cape Department of Health, Dr Thobile Mbengashe, noted that "clinics need to be mindful of the unique needs of our youth. We are very excited about this initiative as it will increase the service uptake and it allows for feedback on our service.” In urging the young people present at the launch to use the rating tool, he informed them that when they rate the service, he will have access to their responses, “please use the mobisite and rate the services you get so that we can improve the services and indeed make them youth- friendly.
loveLife CEO, Dr Lebo Maroo, demonstrated how to practically use and navigate the mobisite. She showed the young people that by using the iloveLife.mobi platform it offers them a safe space to seek and access information on their sexual and reproductive health. As users of the platform, she showed them how they could earn points and enter competitions with greater prizes, once they had accessed certain services, such as getting an HIV test or adopting a family planning method.
Cornelius Schulken from KfW noted that he looks forward to the iloveLife mobisite’s contribution to a broadened behaviour change approach in South Africa as iloveLife respond to the most burning lifestyle questions that concern young people. The incentives programme which is linked to ilovelife gives young people a special motivation to rethink lifestyle. Moreover, it strengthens their self- esteem by rewarding them for adopting a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Focussing on young women, Dr Dyantyi, the MEC of Health in the Eastern Cape, linked today’s proceedings to the recently launched ‘She Conquers’ campaign by government and how the it seeks to reduce the interlinked problems of HIV, school dropout, teenage pregnancy and gender-based violence and to maximize health, education and economic opportunities for young women and adolescent girls.
Talking candidly to the young people, UNFPA Country Representative, Dr Esther Muia, spoke about how young people need to be stewards of their own lives and realise their dreams. She noted one important ingredient to realising their dreams, which is going to school and completing one’s studies. Empowering and equipping oneself with information is another ingredient to realising one’s dreams and in that she mentioned that the clinic locator is a useful tool that will help young people get the correct information, locate a clinic closest clinic to them and help them get correct information on sexual and reproductive matters, which they can verify with their parents, teachers and health care workers at the clinic.
The 20 clinics will receive on-going support to implement quality adolescent and youth friendly services. In addition, UNFPA and loveLife are launching the Airtime Award Campaign this week, awarding new users of the mobisite with R5 airtime.