Quick Read
26 February 2016

Mobile health project for Malawi youth chosen as finalist

A proposal to provide youth the power to rate and assess the quality of youth friendly services (YFS) of health facilities by using a mobile phone, is among the 13 finalists of the 2016 David and Lucille Packard Foundation’s Quality Innovation Challenge. It seeks out creative ideas to improve quality in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for adolescents and youth.

“Tracking quality by youth, for youth.” This is how Loan Liem, Simavi’s Senior Programme Officer SRHR, briefly starts her proposal for the David and Lucille Packard Foundation’s Quality Innovation Challenge, which focuses on youth-friendly services (YFS) on SRHR in Malawi.  Loan notes that most of the YFS are hardly used because they do not meet the standards set by the youth themselves. Since the quality of YFS are not at par, many youth, especially girls do not get counselling, contraceptives or HIV/AIDS and STI services in these health facilities.

Mobile health to assess quality

By creating GPS mapping of all the health centres, the youth and health providers in Malawi can track the quality of YFS. Quality rating of the YFS is determined by a youth quality survey, a youth client satisfactory survey and youth dummy clients. Using the results of the quality tracking, dialogues can be undertaken by the young people and health providers to discuss the areas of improvement for YFS. This will encourage more youth to become aware of the SRHR services available for them and also for the district government to support advocacy and accountability among health providers.

“I am excited that this proposal is selected from 182 applications. It proves that Simavi qualifies as an innovative organisation that can support partners to strengthen strategies. Personally I believe that mobile health can improve our interventions such as by giving young people a voice about their needs and rights, ” says Loan.

A similar project has been proven successful in India and it is hoped that Malawi is next to experience this. “I decided to develop a proposal for the Malawi context, because in India, Simavi’s partners became stronger in innovative approaches and needs less support,” adds Loan.

The project proposal was chosen as finalist during the 2016 International Conference on Family Planning in Indonesia last January, where participants (and finalists) underwent a two-hour ‘pressure cooker’ writing workshop. From the 13 finalists, five will be chosen for a grant of up to US$100,000 to implement the project.  The David and Lucille Packard Foundation says the challenge supports champions with new ideas to improve quality through youth-centered and youth-led projects. The foundation makes grants to strengthen service delivery, build leadership and advocacy capacity, and shift social and cultural norms that prevent women and youth from seeking the services they need to make healthy reproductive decisions.

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