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SMS: An Effective Way to Break the Silence in Conservative Settings

SMS: An Effective Way to Break the Silence in Conservative Settings

Pakistan is a country which has about 136 million cellular subscribers; it opens doors to 74% adolescents in a conservative society, which can be accessed with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) information. In order to address this information need in adolescents, a ‘TEXT service’ was launched allowing young people to ask questions related to SRHR and provide feedback using cost effective mobile technology with a simple text message. The objective of this intervention was to provide a platform to young people to break the silence and confidently ask questions to seek right SRHR information

Methodology: The ‘Access, Service and Knowledge’ project launched the ‘TEXT service’ initiative through an E&M health conference. The service was integrated with ASK’s field activities to inform young people about the TEXT services as well as social media and reached out to 18,000 Adolescents from 100 cities in just five months and number is increasing steadily.

Results: According to recent TEXT project report, as of March 2015, 96% service users were within the age group 10–24, out of which 38% information seekers were girls. In the category of 15–19 year olds, 8% of individuals reported clarity in inquiries pertaining to sex, puberty & semen. Amongst 25–29 year olds, a healthy 52% reported increased awareness about sex and 19 percent revealed increased information about masturbation. 5% of girls made inquiries about ovulation cycle, and fertility window which indicates the confidence level of young girls with the service. As a result, the traffic on Health Helplines and Youask website in Pakistan has been increasing gradually.

Conclusions: This innovative approach increased information access to youth by providing confidentiality information and assurance while maintaining cost effectiveness. The project is being scaled up across all Rutgers WPF initiatives through events, social media, and news/radio channels to attract young people towards TEXT-ASK platform.

Speakers: Qadeer Baig
Conference: WAS Singapore 2015