Say Facebook and most people think of endless hours of banter, jokes, political outbursts and nothing really to write home about.
Botswana Family Welfare Association (BOFWA) and the Sexual Reproductive Health & Rights Africa Trust (SAT) are however set to transform the social media platform into a go to place for family planning and counseling .
BOFWA projects Manager, Senzeni Makhwaje told Sunday Standard Lifestyle that “this is a model of the modern innovative use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to reach out to the youth on a platform they associate with also with relevant messaging, providing client centered services at spaces most convenient to them.”
Makhwaje further stated that BOFWA’s partnership with SAT has drastically increased access to services and that the youth resonate better with Facebook, they consider it to be a safe space to book sessions, through these appointments which are made according to their needs, they also assist the team in the planning process to prep in advance based on the specifications made when booking.
“Over a period of 5 weeks, 600 young people in Gaborone has utilized this services and there are indications that there has been an overall increase in contraceptive access,” said Makhwaje. Despite all of this Makhwaje also pointed out that there is an inherent need to upscale involvement of the male youths, they need to find a means of creating an environment conducive for males seeing as 70% of the people who are using this facility are female.
In the ‘Best Practices Report’ prepared by BOFWA for the International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF) under the sub- heading, ‘No woman should die giving birth’indicated that social media is the most effective tool of communication when reaching out to young people. It further suggested that more than 50% of the total 2018 output of contraceptive was attained within 5 weeks of the 2019 one since the utilization of the new model. They are also able to gather more accurate data using Facebook analytics (tools that track the client from the time of booking to the receipt of the service). Facebook analytics is also able to collate the number of clients, age and sex.
In future, BOFWA intends to roll out this collaboration to all their Health Districts across the country and ultimately extend this partnership model across SADC to form an international collaboration of sorts. Makhwaje said that, “We intend to develop online infomercials to be disseminated via social media and develop video sessions for adolescents and young people and finally conduct sexual reproductive health and rights surveys on social media to influence programming.”
The youth today are subjected to tons of communication stereotypes, they prefer text to phone calls and to them emails seem less urgent then slipping in to their DM (Direct Messaging) so it does not come as surprise that bringing on Sexual Reproductive Health to the digital space would yield relatively positive results.