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Providing sexual and reproductive health services to young people through their peers and their phones.

Photo of Adekunle Salako
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The Contraceptive E-Mart is designed to provide SRH services and information through WhatsApp groups. Volunteer young people designated as Positive Actors are trained to provide basic information on sexual safety. The sexual safety training encompasses prevention and early detection of STIs, prevention of unintended pregnancy and post abortion counselling, prevention of sexual assault and effective responses by survivors/victims of sexual assault. The Positive actors are also exposed to information on contraceptives including indications, effectiveness, side effects and how to use with emphasis on condoms (male and female) and emergency contraceptive pills. They are also trained on how to administer WhatsApp groups and how to use WhatsApp to provide SHR information and market condoms and ECPs.

Each Positive Actor is expected to form a WhatsApp group of 254 members (who are their peers in school, neighborhood and other places). They are also provided with condoms and ECPs which they are expected to dispense to their peers who request same at a token and also earn commission on items dispensed. In addition, the Positive Actors can engage members of their WhatsApp group in private WhatsApp chart to advise on SRH issues and also refer them to nearby Sexual Safety Clinics in government and private facilities. 

Each WhatsApp group has a Positive Consultant (who are volunteer health workers) to monitor and intervene with appropriate information when necessary. They can also take referrals from Positive Actors and provide expert advise/counselling. 

Each week, the Contraceptive E-Mart project office upload e-flyers, case reviews, stories, short videos, interviews etc which are relevant to the SRH of young people to the WhatsApp groups through the Positive Actors to stimulate discussion on the platforms.

This approach is meant to address the following challenges often faced by young people on SRH issues

1. Barriers with older adults who may be prejudiced against use of contraceptives by young people is addressed to some extent. Face to face engagement with older adults to access condoms and ECPs is eliminated. 

2. Open clinic system and pharmacies with risk of confidentiality breach and which young people are often too embarrassed to patronize is addressed.

3. Clinics and pharmacies the usual route of dispensing condoms and ECPs may not be open when they are needed.

4. Challenges of distance from clinic and pharmacies will be addressed.

5. Access to counselling from peers and opportunities for counselling with professionals that does not require face to face meeting is created.

6. Young people will have the opportunity to informed about SRH issues in a continuously interactive manner  and with some level of anonymity using a platform they constantly access.



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Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Thanks for sharing Adekunle e-Mart looks like a great model. I like the train-the-trainee and young leader / champion model.
It reminded me of Charles post
and the model of the Bhaktapur Youth Club:

I'm curious to know why you chose 254 for the number of members in a whatsapp group. How big is your model now?

Photo of Adekunle Salako

Dear Anne, Thanks for your comment and the links which are quite useful. At the moment, a WhatsApp group can not take more than 256 members hence the limit of 254 members plus the WhatsApp group administrator who is a trained peer provider (Positive Actor) and the Positive Consultant. We also think the figure 254 is a good number for an individual to manage for now. As we progress, we hope a Positive Actor will be able to manage 3 to 4 WhatsApp groups 750 - 1000 members.
The Project is still in the concept stage which we are hoping to commence pilot implementation with 10 groups in a few weeks and scale up to after about 6 months.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Dear Adekunle, thank you for your response. To tell you the truth, I originally thought that 254 looked like a big number to manage for an individual :-) Looking forward to learning about the feedback you got from the first pilot. You should definitely post again this idea during the upcoming ideation phase.
You might also want to check this app as it seems to be based on similar principles like yours:
Good luck!

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