According to a survey by the Pew Research Centre, as of 2021, 95% of teenagers (ages 13-17) in the United States had access to a smartphone, and 89% of those teenagers used social media. The same survey found that 45% of teenagers were online “almost constantly.” Despite the widespread availability of the internet, there are still significant disparities in digital access between different groups. For example, according to a report by the National Centre for Education Statistics, as of 2020, only 74% of high-poverty schools had access to a computer with internet access at home, compared to 94% of students in low-poverty schools. Globally, there is also a significant digital divide, with many young people in developing countries lacking access to the internet.
To address the digital divide gap, LVCT Health, through Dhibiti Project, organized a Digital Sensitization Training targeting DREAMS Girls in Tingángá site using 1190 and Oky App towards understanding SRH and GBV matters affecting Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) using Digital Health Platforms. Dhibiti Project, through One2one Kenya and LVCT Group Limited, trained the girls on accessing critical reproductive health information through the Oky Application using their phones and accessing a counsellor through the 1190 toll-free line.
1190 is a toll-free SMS platform that helps young people access GBV, mental health, HIV/Care and Treatment, and critical SRH information, as well as get aid on nearby health care and police centres for survivor referrals. One can access help by calling or sending the word “LOC” to 1190, where they will get professional help from a counsellor. The OKY App is a menstrual hygiene application for girls to help them track their menstrual period, diet required during menstruation, emotional assistance, and access information related to sexual reproductive health. “The 1190 and Oky App are very easy to access using any phone, and one does not need bundles or credit. This makes it easy for young people like me to get information at the click of a button.” Lucy Njoki-DREAMS Girl, Ting’ang’a Site added.
30 DREAMS girls from the Tingángá site benefited from the digital sensitization training as they promised to sensitize their friends to use the application for SRH and GBV assistance. LVCT Health, with CDC support, through Dhibiti Project, provides comprehensive, high-quality HIV prevention, care, and treatment services in Kiambu County. The project reaches men, pregnant women, children, adolescent girls, young women, and other key populations, including healthcare providers, across the selected service delivery sites of the six central target counties.
Digital platforms have the potential to impact sexual and reproductive health in many ways significantly. These platforms have played a key role in Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) information dissemination in recent years. They provide an accessible and convenient way for people to access information, resources, and support related to SRH and GBV.