|some of the communication applications in the 1st century|
In this 21st Century, Information Communication Technology (ICT) has reached its apex and with the coming in of social media the world has indeed become a global village.
There are a number of platforms which people are now using with a number of such channels providing instantaneous communication among people across the world.
We can talk of WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Immo just to mention a few. It is now easy to send messages as compared to the communication landscape of the early 80’s whereby people greatly relied on ground phones and postal services.
This is undeniably a good development in as far as communication is concerned. However, the question that directly comes to my mind is; ‘to what extent do we use new media disseminate important information for human development including the promotion of Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) which is a global challenge more especially among young people?’
Access to SRH services is one of the fundamental rights of young people. Its importance is manifested in the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) that millions of young people world-wide are at risk of being effected with Sexual Transmitted Infection (STI’s) and increased cases of unplanned pregnancies.
ICT has become so popular among the youth and this provides an opportunity that could be used to advance the promotion of SRH awareness messages.
Among other non-state actors that work with the youth in Malawi is Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO). The organisation uses various social media channels to engage young people. Among other tools, YONECO uses WhatsApp and the institution created a Whatsapp youth forum dubbed as Youth Breeze where young people discuss several topics related to SRH. In addition to this, the organisation has a dedicated SMS line that helps the youth on such issues.
As a country, we can scale up such initiatives like these just to ensure that every adolescent in the country has an opportunity to access such important messages in an effort to protect their lives and enhancing young people’s access to health services.
Many young people have these modern gadgets such as phones, tablets and laptops. Let us think of putting in place proper mechanisms and structures for other young people who live in far-flung areas where access to the internet and mobile phone network is a challenge. It is the responsibility of the government and all other stakeholders to introduce well-equipped free ICT hubs in remote parts of the country in order to guarantee equality and inclusive access to SRH knowledge and information among young people.
Let us utilize the power and strength that lies in ICT to protect the lives of the youth by providing them with knowledge and reliable information about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancies, early marriages among other issues so as to groom an impeccable generation.
Surely, the wave of ICT has an undeniable significance in today’s world and social media holds a great potential towards improvement of young people’s sexual reproductive health and rights.