Using a digital tool, Boost, to increase the number of young people accessing HIV, sexual and mental health services in Zimbabwe
Building on Avert’s existing Boost platform, Youth Boost aims to increase the number of young people (aged 10-24) accessing HIV, sexual health, family planning, Female Genital Schistosomiasis (FGS) and mental health services in four provinces in Zimbabwe.
The project is a partnership between Avert and national Zimbabwean HIV organisation OPHID. It will develop new content, including content in Shona and Ndebele, and screening tools that have been locally validated and endorsed by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Using Youth Boost to guide them, a specialised cadre of community health workers called Community Outreach Agents (COAs) will carry out screening and referrals among young people to increase their uptake of essential health services. Until now COAs have lacked a tool to help them provide information and advice, screening and referrals in a single client interaction.
Data from Zimbabwe show very poor rates of HIV diagnosis among children and young people, which means this group is a priority for HIV services.
Young people face a range of often interrelated conditions where they need more knowledge, skills, support and sometimes referral for treatment. Along with HIV and STIs these include contraception, mental health, and FGS.
Recognising community health workers’ often very limited training, the Ministry of Health and Child Care is keen to support COAs continued learning and development, and recognises the value of digital information.
Boost is already a convenient way for community health workers to access up-to-date, reliable and accessible information on HIV, sexual health and related issues. With new content and screening tools supporting COAs’ interaction with young people, Youth Boost will address the knowledge-gaps of young Zimbabweans and improve their uptake of sexual health services.
The Youth Boost project is aiming to:
The project will roll out Youth Boost to over 1,300 COAs and reach 250,000 young people. The long-term aim is that Youth Boost will be scaled up across Zimbabwe, with the support of the Ministry of Health and Child Care.