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UNFPA launches sexual health mobile app


Crowds of young people crush the counter as they try to buy the new mobile handset in Yangon. Photo: Nyein Chan Naing/EPA

The UNFPA is introducing a mobile phone app with facts about love, sex and health from a trusted source.

According to the UNFPA, the app breaks taboos about love and sex in a society that tends to be conservative. It was presented in an event held in Yangon on July 23.

As the UNFPA says, the 16 million young people in Myanmar (aged 10-24) are growing up in a rapidly modernizing society, where traditions and values are changing.

Young people need to be equipped to handle new challenges and to make informed life choices. But the sheer volume of information that Myanmar youth can now access online is overwhelming, and most young people do not have the skills to tell the difference between fact and fiction. At the same time, parents and teachers are often shy to talk about sexual health. Instead, young people repeat hearsay between friends, often perpetuating incorrect information and harmful practices.

To help young people learn about their bodies and to understand how to adopt a healthy lifestyle, to give them the confidence make decisions that are safe, and that they will not regret, UNFPA is introducing a mobile app with facts about love, sex and health from a trusted source. The app breaks taboos by addressing both physical and emotional topics: Safe sex and contraceptives; 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 allows young people to find out about sensitive issues confidentially, without shame or privacy concerns. It is targeted to a wide audience in both urban and rural areas. Building on years of experience from a telephone hotline dedicated to the sexual health of young people, the mobile app initiative takes advantage of the evolving IT landscape in Myanmar, which has brought increased internet access, more affordable smart phones, and reduced censorship.

The initiative is a collaboration between UNFPA, the Myanmar Medical Association and the Ministry of Health and Sports.

The UNFPA held an introductory event that introduced the app and showed young people how to use it, as well as holding performaances by Wai La, Wine Su KhaingThein and AungHtet, and holding a theatre play about teenage pregnancy, and quizzes with prizes.

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