When Health Chief Administrative Secretary, Mercy Mwangangi, challenged various stakeholders to be innovative in creating solutions to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights issues, we heeded the call.
We took time to do the research, create and design the solution, and we are proud to stand here today to launch the final product.
Kenyan youth have, for the longest time, spoken about the challenges they face in accessing Sexual and Reproductive Health services. Constant judgment, unfriendly personnel, lack of privacy and even lack of essential commodities are among the main reasons the youth tend to shy away from accessing health facilities.
This comes with dire consequences. They do not get to access accurate information and services that could change- and even save- their lives.
And now we are in the digitalisation era. More youth are turning to the internet for information on almost everything, including their reproductive health. The COVID-19 pandemic also pushed many people online, especially when in-person sessions were impossible. Tools including apps, websites, toll-free lines, USSD have been created to promote access to services and information. It is, therefore, vital we leverage such available tools to meet the target group where they are.
This backdrop is why we wanted a digital solution that is simple, accessible, and easy to find. We wanted a platform that aims at reducing the pressure points for young people as they look for information about their reproductive health and a space where they find accurate and appropriate information. There was need for a platform where their questions and concerns are anonymous – and will not expose them to stigma and suspicion by peers and parents/guardians. This culminated into Lifeyangu.com.
It is important to note that digital solutions work best with in-person sessions; that’s why we collaborated with county governments to map out the facilities so that young people can get the necessary services closest to them. We are thankful to the county governments for partnering with us in the mapping of facilities and mobilisation of the FDGs that resulted in the formation of this platform.
We have more work on our hands – to make sure that every young Kenyan can access the Life Yangu platform. This means enhancing our collaboration with various partners- both governmental and private- to reduce costs related with this access. Reports indicate that young women and girls are less likely to access the internet than young men and boys- something we must change to bridge the digital gap.
It is our duty as stakeholders to do right by the young people in our country. In facilitating their access to accurate and appropriate SRHR information and services, we will be offering them a chance to take control of their sexual and reproductive health. This way, they would be in a better position to participate fully in a dignified life.
Speech by Evelyn Samba during the launch of Life Yangu platform. Ms Samba is the Kenya country director at DSW Kenya.