Working with a Youth-Led Organization for Sustainable Impact
To better reach youth in Tanzania, the SHOPS Plus project partnered with Daktari Mkononi, a local youth-led initiative that aims to provide information on HIV and other health topics. The organization’s mobile-friendly website contains information in English and Swahili and is designed to speak to the youth population. Its name in Swahili means “doctor in your hands.”
In Tanzania, SHOPS Plus works to leverage the private health sector and digital technology to make access to HIV testing, care, and treatment more accessible for youth and other underserved populations. As a part of that goal the project worked with the National AIDS Control Programme to train staff at private health facilities. The facilities will be able to serve as pick-up points for antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for people living with HIV who are stable and currently obtaining services in the public sector. This model aims to decentralize access to these lifesaving drugs, making it more convenient for clients, and to support them in staying on treatment. As part of this effort, the project partnered with Daktari Mkononi to reach youth and other groups with the necessary information to support them as they access the pick-up points.
One of the main focuses of HIV programming in Tanzania is to increase HIV testing, and immediate treatment initiation, among adolescents and youth testing positive. Reaching these populations where they are, physically or online, with targeted HIV information is a priority. Stakeholders in the national HIV response are especially focused on disseminating information on symptoms, the management of adverse treatment events, prevention, and stigma, in addition to providing guidance on how youth can access testing and other youth-friendly service options.
Daktari Mkononi, created by young health professionals, provides health information through a website and campaigns with a focus on young people. Its team works closely with university students and student organizations to develop content and to ensure the messaging is appropriate and responsive to youth concerns. The team also works on a social enterprise model through community pharmacies that are owned by the founders. The pharmacies generate revenue that supports the health information initiative, while also serving as a platform for disseminating that information.
With technical and financial assistance from SHOPS Plus, Daktari Mkononi is updating its website with new information about the decentralized ARV dispensing model, including location information, treatment adherence support, and other clinical information. When launched, Daktari Mkononi will implement a targeted marketing campaign to increase traffic to the website and use of the information by young people.
After the SHOPS Plus project ends, the website will still be available for other partners to work with Daktari Mkononi. The site could be used to further tailor health information for youth in other health areas, such as family planning, and provide a self-sustaining platform for information sharing in line with the interests and preferences of Tanzania’s youth.
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