SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa has unveiled an innovative digital health platform christened FemConnect that will ensure convenient access to menstrual hygiene supplies, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information and family planning methods.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sexual and reproductive health broadly comprises improving maternal and newborn care, providing high quality services for family planning, eliminating unsafe abortion, combatting sexually transmitted infections and promoting sexual health.
The digital health app launched in South Africa provides reproductive health services to make certain that women in sub-Saharan Africa have quick access to organic menstrual hygiene products, free access to telehealth for sexual and reproductive healthcare and family planning.
In addition, FemConnect allows South Africans to donate sanitary pads and citizens can apply to mentorship programmes to mentor and empower young girls aimed at ensuring young women have convenient access to quality and holistic SRHR services in their communities.
Gender inequity, poverty among women, weak economic capacity, sexual and gender-based violence, including female genital mutilation (FGM), are major impediments to the amelioration of women’s health in the African Region.
The sexual and reproductive health app seeks to address challenges faced by many adolescent girls in accessing sexual and reproductive health resources in South Africa for instance young girls are often judged and stigmatized during the time of their menstrual cycle.
School-going young girls experience challenges in accessing reproductive health services during their menstrual period where an estimated 30% of South African girls skip school while they are on their period due to lack of sanitary products and inadequate sanitation.
The South African sexual health app aims to highlight the holistic SRHR issues that young women face while providing much-needed interventions to address high pregnancy rates and unwanted abortions among other issues facing young girls.
FemConnect ensures that users can request one-on-one help and support, gain expert insight into family planning and contraceptives, access menstrual hygiene products as well as speak virtually to a resident pharmacist or counsellor that specializes in sexual and reproductive health or gender-based violence
FemConnect Founder Asonele Kotu explained that there is a critical gap in adolescent sexual and reproductive health in society that needs to be filled while observing that young women particularly those from poorer communities suffer severe shame around SRHR issues.
“Young women particularly those from poorer communities have to deal with long waiting times in clinics and costly travel. There’s a lack of access to equitable SRHR, mental health and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) services and a shortage of digital solutions,” FemConnect Founder Asonele Kotu noted.
Kotu advised that there is dire need for society to work together and empower organizations that are already offering support programmes in schools and communities to end the limitations imposed by menstruation.
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