B-Wise with health dept's mobi-site

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The Department of Health has launched a mobi-site to provide young South Africans with medical advice.
The Department of Health has launched a mobi-site to provide young South Africans with medical advice.

The Department of Health has launched the B-Wise mobi-site, to help young South Africans seeking medical advice to get information straight from health professionals as well as minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.

Motsoaledi says the name B-Wise was chosen because of its catchy and inviting nature, and the youth felt that as young people "you have to take responsibility for your actions and be wise".

He says young people must make use of the platform. "We needed to have a site where we are able to communicate with adolescents."

The mobi-site aims to provide information and tools that promote healthy lifestyles to adolescents and youth between the ages of 10-14, 15-19 and 20-24.

The youth can access information on topics such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV, AIDS and TB, nutrition, fitness and physical activity, alcohol and substance abuse, mental health, gender-based violence, chronic diseases, physical and mental disability, violence, trauma and injuries, and oral health.

The minister says: "We want to ensure our adolescents and the youth make informed decisions to develop their bodies and minds."

ICT analyst Adrian Schofield explains that any improvement in the distribution of health education is to be welcomed, and a high proportion of the urban youth group does have access to a smartphone.

"The launch should be supported by a poster campaign at schools and clinics to advertise the mobi-site link."

Schofield adds: "I don't think there is any doubt that the department sees the potential value in using mobile technology to reach young people who would otherwise have no access to appropriate health support - maybe they are no longer at school, have no job and no reason to go to a clinic, for example, but do still need advice."

How it works

B-Wise will have allocated live chat hours when users will be able to chat live with experts such as psychologists and nutritionists, and general practitioners. To access the site, users have to register so that they can read factual information, view real stories, participate in polls and find their closest clinic.

Schofield says the B-Wise initiative will work under certain conditions. The interaction of the site must be relevant to young people, presented in a way and using language that they understand and can engage with. It must also offer real value, real help, when a young person seeks assistance, he says.

"Work with the service providers to make access free with no data charges. Provide access to the service at clinics and hospitals for people who do not have their own mobile devices. Advertise the service. Continuously extend the languages and the content - keep it fresh," he suggests.

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