During the AIDS conference in Durban, it was discussed that the number of new recorded HIV infections has increased to 2000 per week. And that the demographic that is most affected is youth aged 15 – 24. This prompted the forming of the A! Heath Champions that will focus in dealing with the various diseases that seem to be targeting young people.
Hackathon on Alcohol and Drug Addiction in Thobelani Secondary, Mpumalanga
The community engagements are called Hackathons and they seek to explore community social ills through conversations. It involves sharing ideas, experience and innovation solution. One of the biggest problems facing South African Health Sector is that the existing interventions are not working. Most of the time young people shy away from local stakeholders such as clinics for information because of the stigma of being judged by the health professional for living a certain lifestyle. The A! Health Champions, have taken it upon themselves to use the Hackathon model to hear the real voices of youth regarding the following issues:
- With so many interventions aimed at reducing the high disease burden, why are young people not using them and why are they continuing with risky behaviour.
- We also wanted to find out if young people knew what role their behaviour is contributing to the country’s high disease burden.
- We also wanted to find out what young people think needs to be done to decrease the high disease burden.
Eyadini Labantu HIV/AIDS infection in youth Hackathon in Durban, Kwazulu Natal
The A! Health Hackathons hack into spaces that young people normally hang out that are considered hot spots for risky behaviours such as taverns, school grounds, shisa nyamas and clubs as those are places where you find young people who are practising risky behaviours like having unprotected sex or abusing drugs. The aim is to use these Hackathons to find out the real reason why young people are engaging in risky behaviour. The A! Health Champions turn these hot spots into safe spaces.
Inter-generational Hackathon on Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights in Tso’s Butchery in Kagiso, Gauteng
The A! Health Hackathons were held in various chill spots across the country. The strategy of using these places enabled the A! Health champions to provoke critical conversations. We can hack into big issues so that we could do something about it. The topics that the Hackathons mainly focused on:
- Alcohol and Drug Addiction
- Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights
Hackathons were held in partnership with local stakeholders such as nurses, counsellors and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the medical matters that arise are addressed by qualified professional. The A! Health Champions turned hot spots into safe spaces where youth can open up about real issues that they are facing. We were able to reach many young people in various provinces and we will be continuing the Hackathons with local stakeholders.
Pangu Pangu Shisa Nyama – Kwamhlanga, MP Napjadi Liquior Store, in Mankweng, Limpopo
Our next step is to meet and share our finding in the 1st A! Health Bosberaad where all the A! Champions will meet to share their ideas and develop community interventions that will have an impact in #YouthHealthMatters.
We are the alternative!