Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the International Labour Organization and the Oasis Websoft , a software-development house in Ghana to utilize a web application – Bisa – to reach young people with health-related information, including information on HIV and AIDS.
The Bisa application provides information on health-related issues in Ghana. Users interact directly with medical practitioners without having physical contact. This aspect of the application helps to overcome confidentiality concerns of users. Due to fear of stigma and discrimination, many people, especially those who are living with HIV or suffering from sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), avoid contacting health care providers, choosing instead to self-medicate, or to go without care altogether.
Under the MOU, the Bisa application will be used to target young persons and provide the necessary health information at the click of a button, including options for accessing HIV counselling and testing services, treatment for STDs and HIV- related illnesses.
Comprehensive knowledge of HIV among young persons in Ghana is declining as well as condom use among young persons with two or more partners. In addition, young people have little access to HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, care, and support services. Compared with adults, HIV testing is low among young persons.
Worldwide only three in 10 adolescent girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 years have comprehensive and correct knowledge about HIV. In eastern and southern Africa, three quarters of all new HIV infections among adolescents aged 10–19 years are among adolescent girls.
Adolescents and young people (10-24 years old) make up 25 per cent of the global population. Approximately half – 900 million – are females. This group is also the largest emerging user of mobile technology through mobile/smart phones and computers.
The ILO’s support will comply with the principles of the ILO Recommendation on HIV and AIDS (No. 200).
“Mobile technology has transformed communication among young people across Africa. Its application to healthcare can be a game changer in the HIV and health response, particularly among the youth. The ILO’s partnership with Oasis Websoft offers a huge potential and a unique opportunity to increase access to timely and relevant health and HIV information through a channel young people use daily”- Dennis Zulu, Director – ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
As part of the collaboration ILO and Oasis Websoft will also work together to mobilize resources to expand the content of the Bisa application and scale it up to other areas in West Africa.
“Bisa was birthed out of the desire to help tackle existing healthcare challenges especially in Ghana, by employing mobile technology, which is exceptionally popular and, in our opinion, the most effective means to communication in modern times. We at Oasis Websoft are happy to collaborate with the ILO in meeting our shared goals in the area of healthcare, providing HIV related information to the youth, ensuring that the standards of confidentiality and non-discrimination are respected”- Raindolf Owusu, Founder and CEO of Oasis Websoft.
The article first appeared here http://www.ilo.org/addisababa/media-centre/news/WCMS_504135/lang–en/index.htm