Ahead of Youth Day 2021, we are reminded of the words of former President Nelson Mandela who in June 1995 said that “Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth.”
Shout-It-Now, a South African non-profit, is inspired by these words as it offers free, mobile, youth-friendly medical and behavioral HIV prevention, gender-based violence (GBV), and sexual and reproductive health services (SRH), particularly to young girls and women in the age group 15-24, in communities in Gauteng and the North West.
Dr Albert Machinda, Chief Operating Officer at Shout-It-Now, observes that, “If we are to build South Africa envisaged by former President Mandela, we have to begin paying more attention to the physical and psycho-social needs of our youth, and particularly young girls and women in the age group 15-24, who remain the most vulnerable because of unequal cultural, social and economic status.”
“Young girls and women also continue to bear the brunt of many issues including HIV, gender-based violence, poverty and inequality. As we work with them in providing HIV, GBV and sexual and reproductive health services, we often also see, amongst others, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and teenage pregnancies. These can have long term physical, emotional and psychological consequences. In addition, depending on the communities in which these occur, young girls and women may be subjected to stigmatisation, isolation and sometimes even ostracisation.”
Dr Albert Machinda added, “Almost four decades into the HIV/AIDS pandemic, adolescent girls and young women continue to account for almost a quarter of all new HIV infections in South Africa. They are also often subjected to gender-based violence. Shout-It-Now, therefore, prioritises this demographic group because we believe it is with them that we can make the most difference. If we can assist young girls and women with the appropriate support to navigate harmful social conditions, they can have a healthier and happier life path.”
“We strive to make our services accessible to those who need it in a range of ways. In addition to all of our services being free of charge, we recruit our staff from local communities in which we work, to make sure that we can help those most affected in a culturally and linguistically appropriate way. We also build partnerships with stakeholders so that we can refer those who are affected to other services that can assist. In our solutionist approach, we want to make it a seamless experience to get help when it is needed.”
“We bring our services to young people through our mobile vehicles at various locations and times. We also want to maintain the dignity of those who seek our help. This means we can come to you when you need us! We can be contacted through our dedicated WhatsApp number +27 10 020 6021, website https://shoutitnow.org/ or the Connect Hub on +27 10 020 6021.”
“In order for the future generations to be able to make the vision of Nelson Mandela a reality, we must dislodge the culture of fear, vulnerability and powerlessness in our young girls and women. Let us make this pledge this Youth Month and let this commitment guide our actions to build a world where young girls and women can be equal co-creators of development and prosperity for all,” concluded Dr Machinda.
Notes to the Editor
About HIV in South Africa
UNAIDS, ahead of World Aids Day 2020, described the situation as follows: “South Africa is home to almost one-fifth of people living with HIV worldwide and has an HIV prevalence rate of 20.4% among adults (15-19 years). In line with trends across Sub-Saharan Africa, in 2019, women accounted for the majority of new infections in the country. Structural gender inequalities, discrimination, violence against women and girls, and unequal gender norms continue to undermine efforts by women and girls girls to use HIV/AIDS services and prevent HIV.”
About gender-based violence in South Africa
According to Global Risk Insights, “femicide in South Africa was already five times higher than the global average and the female interpersonal violence death rate was the fourth-highest out of the 183 countries listed by the World Health Organisation in 2016. Evidence has now emerged that suggests cases of violence against women are increasing. According to 2019-2020 South African crime statistics, there was an average of 144 sexual offences reported per day, with rape cases being the most prevalent type of reported sexual offence, at an average of 116 cases per day.”
Shout-It-Now is a South African non-profit company that provides free, mobile, innovative and integrated community based biomedical and behavioural HIV prevention services, gender-based violence (GBV) services, and sexual and reproductive health services (SRH) to communities in Gauteng and the North West. Shout-It-Now works in partnership with the South African Department of Health and is funded by PEPFAR (the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In association with trusted partners, Shout-It-Now provides a full layered service offering to men and women between the ages of 12 and 49, with a particular focus on adolescent girls and young women. Known as the Shout Model, the layered service offering focuses on SRH, HIV and violence prevention programmes and lifestyle programmes, which are designed to educate and empower each client to make informed decisions. Taking a client-centric approach, Shout-It-Now’s underlying philosophy is to respect the dignity of all its clients to make their own choices for a healthy future, while supporting them through a unique healthcare experience that is based on their individual needs and requirements.
The organisation serves the Ekurhuleni and Tshwane municipalities in Gauteng and Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Bojanala and Ngaka Modiri Molema districts in North West.
Shout-It-Now contributes towards the UNAIDS 95-95-95 goals to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030, which aims to ensure that by 2030, 95% of people living with HIV know their HIV status; 95% of people who know their status are on treatment, and 95% of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads.
Shout-It-Now’s services can be accessed through their dedicated WhatsApp number +27 10 020 6021, website https://shoutitnow.org/ or call the Connect Hub on +27 10 020 6021.