On October 31, 2017, The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Merck launched a new eHealth MeetUp series on strengthening health systems through digital solutions. The partnership aims to strengthen the ecosystem around healthcare innovations in Kenya by offering a platform for information and knowledge exchange, as well as building and fostering partnerships for advancing partners’ respective mandate and programming. This will be carried out over six scheduled events where all six health system building blocks will be discussed. Together with an established startup community and partners, the organizations will look at how best to advance Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health in Kenya with the aim of leaving no-one-behind.
Currently the population of Kenya is comprised of a huge youth bulge. 64 % of the population is below 24 years of age, 20.6 % of whom are youth aged 15 to 24. This has created a unique opportunity for the country to reap a ‘demographic dividend’ – a boost in economic productivity that occurs when there are growing numbers of people in the workforce relative to the number of dependents.
However, it also presents a challenge in terms of the Ministry of Health being able to assure access for youth to quality reproductive health services and information. Research shows that the majority of adolescents and youth lack the knowledge required to make those decisions responsibly, leaving them vulnerable to coercion, sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy. To address these challenges dynamics affecting young people need to be considered as we think of solutions such as intergenerational dialogues, access to right information and youth friendly services among others. Many actors, including GIZ Health Sector Programme, have supported the Ministry of Health (Kenya) in this endeavour.
The country is now looking at employing of the digital platform to reach out to a large number of youth, an initiative that is being supported by UNFPA and Merck.
The GIZ Health Sector Programme was represented at this meeting by Ms. Irene Omogi. The organization has in the recent past supported innovations through a collaboration with the e-health community in Kenya. This platform provides an opportunity for the GIZ to continually engage in discussion on digitalization and its use in improving access to information and quality of healthcare including reproductive health services for the youth.