UN Agency, Ministries Launch ‘Life and Love’ App Aimed at Young People
By Nyein Nyein 20 December 2017
YANGON – To help young people learn about their bodies and how to adopt a healthy lifestyle, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports on Wednesday launched a mobile app to provide trustworthy information about love, sex and health.
The mobile app, Love Question, Life Answer, is designed to give young people the confidence to make decisions that are safe and that they will not regret.
Taking advantage of technological advances and the proliferation of mobile phones since Myanmar’s transition to democracy in 2011, the UN agency and the ministries – the Ministry of Health and Sports with support from the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Social Welfare— along with the Myanmar Medical Association are targeting the app at younger people, who account for almost one-third, or 16 million, of Myanmar’s total population of 52 million.
Dr. Hlaing Htaik Htar Khin, a program analyst at the UNFPA’s Reproductive Health Department, said: “It is an awareness-raising app, which will allow young people to be able to access accurate information on reproductive health, which they need to know, from a trusted source, so they will not need to ask other people. And they can use it by themselves via their mobile phones during their free time.”
The information on the app is provided in the Burmese language, and features topics such as safe sex and contraception, early marriage and unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and HIV, puberty and menstruation, gender and body dilemmas, drug abuse and alcohol problems, and last but not least, love and relationships.
The app can be used while offline, and requires only wifi access or mobile data to be downloaded from the Google Play Store or App Store. The app can also be shared from one mobile phone to another via file-sharing tools such as Zapya.
Daw Hlaing Htaik Htar Khin said the app was created based on data from the 2014 census and the 2015-16 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), which revealed many young girls and women aged between 15-19 fall pregnant even though they are not ready for this life-changing event.
“The mortality rate among young girls is also high, and when we asked about the causes of these deaths, we found many were the result of illegal abortions due to unwanted pregnancies or lives being lost during the delivery of the baby,” she said.
The surveys indicated the root cause was a lack of knowledge among young people about reproductive health. Thus, the educators tried to think of a better approach to disseminate information about reproductive health to young people, who have wide access to mobile technology and who typically spend a lot of time in front of their screens.
As there is a taboo in Myanmar about openly discussing sexuality and the subject is not generally included in school curriculums, mobile phones were viewed as the best approach to reach young people, Daw Hlaing Htaik Htar Khin said.
The medical officer said the UNFPA would seek to raise public awareness about the app by using social media and multimedia platforms. It would also be able monitor the number of people who access the app to get information about the campaign’s effectiveness.