In 2019, an estimated 1.7 million adolescents (age 10–19 years) were living with HIV with around 90% in Africa. While there have been substantial declines in new infections amongst adolescents from a peak in 1994, adolescents still account for about 10% of new adult HIV infections, with three-quarters amongst adolescent girls. Additionally, while new infections may have fallen in many of the most severely affected countries, recent testing coverage remains low suggesting that many adolescents and young people living with HIV may not know their status.
It’s against this backdrop that Kenya’s Ministry of Health and various partners have launched a platform designed to avail information easily and credibly to them. Dubbed Lifeyangu.com, the platform is designed to give youths aged between 18 to 24 years access to sexual and reproductive health services easily by mapping out health facilities near them and providing a safe environment for the youth to share information. So far, 106 public clinics have been earmarked for the first phase of the project.
“We are in the digital age, and as such there is need to ensure young people are able to access online tools to advance their lives. The government has put in place a raft of measures to create an environment conducive for innovation that will positively impact all Kenyans, including the young people” said Dr George Rae, the acting CEC for Health, Kisumu County. “It is impressive that this platform, Lifeyangu.com, developed by DSW and Bayer, has come at the right time, where all these factors – the need for appropriate reproductive health services and access to technology – intersect.”
LifeYangu.com is expected to help young Kenyans make great decisions when it comes to owning their sexual health by giving them the tools, information and confidence they need. The partners believe every young Kenyan deserves to have a bright future, and that barriers that they often experience can easily be avoided or overcome. We’re on a journey to knowing more and doing better.
LifeYangu.com will give youths sexual and reproductive health information as a component of overall health, throughout the life cycle, for both men and women; to help them in decision-making such as voluntary choice in marriage, family formation and determination of the number, timing and spacing of one’s children and the right to have access to the information and means needed to exercise voluntary choice as well as equality and equity for men and women, to enable individuals to make free and informed choices in all spheres of life, free from discrimination based on gender; and sexual and reproductive security, including freedom from sexual violence and coercion, and the right to privacy.
The platform will also list credible reproductive health specialists, youth centers and nearby reproductive health facilities and contraceptive among others. The platform was inaugurated by Dr George Rae in conjunction with a consortium of local and international organisations led by Deutsche Stiftung Welbevölkerung (DSW) and Bayer East Africa.
Evelyn Samba, the DSW Kenya, Country Director confirmed that one of the reasons they chose to go the online route was because young Kenyans are much more comfortable looking for information online than going to physical facilities.
“This backdrop is why we wanted a digital solution that is simple, accessible, and easy to find; 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 and where their questions and concerns stay private- and will not expose them to stigma and suspicion by peers and parents/guardians.,” said MS Samba.