“How many of you asked your parents about contraception before you had sex for the first time?” Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi asked a packed press conference in Johannesburg.
Motsoaledi was making the point that young people need other sources of information and help – it cannot be left in the hands of parents, teachers, and clinic sisters.
The minister was launching a competition on Wednesday to name a mobile app aimed at the youth, an app which will answer questions about both sexual and general health, provide information and – unusually – provide teens with direct access to their minister of health.
Motsoaledi plans to schedule a regular livechat where he will talk to the youth directly, answering questions and, he confirmed, hosting experts in various fields of health to field queries and concerns.
Now the ministry is looking for name ideas from anyone aged 10 to 24. Suggested names should be snappy – six words or less – and the entry should be accompanied by a motivation: why do you think this name would appeal to the youth and reflect the purpose of the app?
The competition runs from 6 – 31 May and winners will be announced at the end of June when the app itself, which will run on Mxit, is launched. Enter here.
The app launch follows the success of MomConnect, which uses digital technology to engage with mothers. It’s also an extension of much that is being spoken at the Consultation on the 2016 – 2030 Global Strategy for Women’s‚ Children’s and Adolescents’ Health event which is being finalised in Johannesburg.
The addition of adolescent health as a key priority in the Global Strategy is seen as an important step forward, especially in a continent like Africa where there is a large and growing youth demographic.