A mobile-based service to promote reproductive health for youth-at-risk: the case of Grabouw, Western Cape, South Africa
Lipito, Hedvig Nyanyukweni Kakoko
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Transitioning from childhood to adulthood is typically coupled with many puberty related challenges, and such challenges are heightened by access deficiency to reproductive health information. The situation is worsened in under-resourced communities in Southern Africa as the youth’s socio-economic status is hampered by a lack of timely informed education. Such youth groups are referred to as youth-at-risk. The youth are the most affected in recent days as they are exposed to various health disturbances. The youth need to be aware of critical life information, particularly reproductive health information, in order to make better choices. With mobile technology being an integral part of everyday life and more appealing to the youth, opportunities are opened up for the use of mobile functionalities or an extension thereof to provide relevant mobile-based services for information access. Recently, health information is shared and is accessible on different mobile platforms. This research project focuses on mobile-based services to promote reproductive health information for youth-at-risk groups, aged 18 to 24 from the Grabouw community in the Western Cape of South Africa. Most of mobile technology’s solutions and proposed mobile-based services come from elsewhere with little or no consideration of the communities and people who will use these services. The youth was engaged in different activities as participants to design a mobile-based service to promote reproductive health information, putting them at the center of the design process as design partners. Service design methods and tools were used as the methodology in a systematic manner. A Double Diamond framework consisting of four phases (Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver) was followed in order to collect the data. The phases guided the design process from ideation to co-designing of the service prototyped herein. Different ways of accessing information especially reproductive health information by youth-at-risk were identified. The available technology and existing practices to access reproductive health information were also identified. Results clearly indicate that the youth are motivated to use mobile phones to share and receive health information. The youth currently have access to reproductive health information and services, however some services require the youth to travel long distances by vehicle or by walking. The youth walk as a result of lack of transport in some locations because there is no infrastructure in place to support vehicles. Furthermore, the information available to the youth currently is not contextualised, therefore making it irrelevant with consideration to resources available in this particular community. The research project recommends that when a solution is being designed for any community, all the relevant stakeholders have to be involved in the design and development process to allow for a co-design interaction that allows for a usable and relevant solution design with and for the intended users. Involving the user in the design process accelerates adoption if an innovation and easy technology appropriation in the user’s environment. The users add the value needed as they are sharing knowledge, experiences and way of doing things which have a positive effect on the solution. The study recommends service to be developed in the future according to the findings herein. The implementation, testing and use of the mobile-based service (RHIAY) prototyped in this thesis are for future work.