CyberRwanda

Reimagining Health Education

Partners: Society of Family Health, USAID, Packard Foundation, YTH | Location: Kigali, Rwanda

 
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How might we use technology and storytelling to increase knowledge and improve access to health services in order to address teen pregnancy and unemployment in Rwanda?

As rates of internet usage rise dramatically among young people ages 12-19 in urban and peri-urban settings, CyberRwanda uses youth-centered design to create a fun, interactive, and inspirational Direct to Consumer (DTC) platform that seamlessly integrates employment skills with on-demand health information and products for Rwandan youth.

 
 
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Challenge

Youth unemployment

According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), the unemployment rate in Rwanda is 16.7 percent and youth unemployment stands at 21 percent. The lack of formal economic opportunities put girls at risk, and 10 percent of girls in Rwanda reported receiving money in exchange for sex.

A lack of accurate information about how to prevent pregnancy and HIV

Since Family Planning and Reproductive Health (FP/RH) education is rarely comprehensive, adolescents turn to the internet and social media for information, much of which is inaccurate, prescriptive, or difficult to understand.

Only 11% of adolescents have comprehensive HIV prevention knowledge

FP/RH information and services are only designed for married women. Even though Rwandan law allows youth access to FP/RH care, contraceptive use among adolescents remains highly stigmatized. Cultural norms, provider bias, or a lack of information about a need for FP/RH care makes finding youth-friendly services difficult for unmarried young people.

 

Innovation

CyberRwanda is a digital platform that aims to improve the health and livelihoods of urban adolescents (12-19 years). Co-designed with Rwandan youth, this DTC platform weaves together choose-your-own-adventure storylines, games to test knowledge, a robust resource directory, an interactive SMS chatbot, online ordering, and a clinic locator to deliver integrated age-appropriate FP/RH information, employment skills, and linkage to high-quality, youth-friendly services. CyberRwanda also includes a separate digital training game that helps to train pharmacists at partnering clinics on the online ordering program and youth rights, bias, and FP/RH care.

 

Next Steps

Through USAID and the generous support of the American people, the CyberRwanda consortium is moving into the implementation phase of the project. YLabs has partnered with Society for Family Health (SFH) in Rwanda to pilot CyberRwanda in school clubs and youth centers in 2019. After pilot, we will use social media, community events, and mass media marketing to promote the launch of the product across six implementation districts in 2020. The University of California Berkeley School of Public Health are working with YLabs as external evaluation partners throughout this project.

 
 
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richelle reed