Youth Space

Learning and implementing digital health as a DSD model to support young people

By Bernard Chimbele Chanda, Lusaka.

Being an HIV Activist, it is always amazing when we get opportunities that involve travel and socialization. The news that I was attending the AIDS2020 was exciting and definitely something to look forward to. Even though COVID19 made it hard to travel, I was thrilled to be part of the online dialogues that were not only eye opening but were entertaining and provided ground for interaction with other young people and learning best practices from other young people from different countries.

At the conference I attended so many sessions but the most memorable ones were: evaluation Time is running out for Children Living with HIV, Young People Are Leading the Way, Community Advocacy: How we Innovate and Mobilize; these sessions had concrete information which was very enlightening and my main interest was on the different partners aiming to work towards creating synergies in their communities.

I learnt how to account for every service delivered to YPLHIV and measure the support given to them through different service delivery strategies and availability; in this I learnt more about correct data collection, reporting, and clearly aligning the issues that affect young people living with HIV.

As a dependable and resourceful young person, I was intrigued by the session on designated service delivery. It captured my interest because it was one of my high priority roles of my work with the Zambia Network of Young People Living with HIV (ZNYP+). It enhanced my capacity to think broad and strategize more on how to deliver the services through different models which includes the Digital Health were AGYW and other Young People who are not able to access Health Services and information from Health facilities and Youth Friendly Spaces can be accessing through social media groups and phone calls that encourage adherence, counseling and mental health sessions. With the introduction of the Digital Health under the Covid-19 Pandemic, it has made the access to SRH information and ART Adherence possible without people going to the Health facilities. The Differentiated Service Delivery model has also decongested the ART departments in the Health Facilities from the spread of Covid-19 by recruiting more Adherence Support Workers who have been forming ART Access Points in communities where stable PLHIV meet from to receive short symptom screening before collecting their ARVs drugs. In my capacity, I am ready to support the strengthening of DSD models for Young People to reduce the numbers of young people who are recorded as lost to follow up because they have challenges adhering to their medicines and treatment. The role of following up should not be left to the older people but to us as young men who are stakeholders in the future and wellbeing of our communities.

I am thankful for the opportunity that UNICEF, Y+ Global and Zambia Network of Young people living with HIV availed to me to acquire such knowledge and understand how things are done in different countries.