Egmont Trust: Delivering HIV prevention services through mobile Health

Target: 3000 females and 2000 males aged 13-30 years over 12 months

Our aim through this project is to scale up the uptake of SRH services by linking young people with a Helpline SMS platform across Zimbabwe. After noticing an increase in calls and messages from other Cities and districts as Youth Advocates Zimbabwe we partnered with the Egmont Trust to strengthen our capacity to create educational content and respond to calls coming from outside Chitungwiza, Marondera and Seke district. The Youth Helpline seeks to reach young people in remote areas including young people with disabilities so that they are better informed and thus able to make healthier choices regarding their sexuality. SMS/CALL using mobile phones is the easiest way of reaching young women and girls at the comfort of their homes with the assurance of confidentiality as the platform is highly anonymous.

The helpline is effective in resource limited settings as simple free SMS/CALL is able to cut costs for beneficiaries in travel, non-existent and expensive services that usually deter uptake. Through the use of SMS and calls, the helpline generates data, mobilizes young people, strengthens referral system for Adolescent Girls and Young Women requiring HIV support and services. The helpline will improve coordination and linkages to outreach activities like HIV Testing and Counselling (HTC), Family Planning (FP) and Gender Based Violence (GBV). Using this platform, beneficiaries are able to maneuver through the complex network of different HIV services and receive individualized specialist counseling, referral, confirm service uptake and reminders for appointments. Making use of scheduled SMS alerts, the platform is able to check if a beneficiary has received service.

The project seeks to overcome bottlenecks that young people encounter in accessing correct and comprehensive HIV information and services using new channels (SMS, Social Media platforms –WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) in addition to traditional ones (mass media, schools, community, peers groups). The use of modern technology and popular youth events is a great way to create excitement, generate conversation and demand for HIV services. Youth Helpline mobile phone calls, texts and WhatsApp messages allow individualized age-specific information aligned with national life-skills and sexuality education framework. Client initiated text provide a catch-up mechanism for young people in and out of school, facilitating evidence informed demand-driven communication for behavioral change and real time monitoring of trends in outcomes.

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