CAREER PROFILE: Reaching out to the youth about reproductive health

Calvin Gladson Andrea (Second Right) is on a mission to create awareness on reproductive health. PHOTO I ELIZABETH TUNGARAZA

Calvin Gladson Andrea is an academic staff at the School of Pharmacy of St John’s University of Tanzania. He is also the founder of BintiAfya project which provide Sexual Reproductive Health education by implementing education awareness programs nationwide starting with priority selected areas with high need in Dodoma region.

The project aims to reach adolescents and young girls in Tanzania aged 10 – 24 years who are more vulnerable to consequences of inadequacy and inaccurate sexual and reproductive health education. This involve girls in different areas including secondary schools, youth camps and orphanage centres where this targeted group belongs to.

He was born in Dodoma 28 years ago. Calvin attended his primary education at Nsongoro Primary School in Hai District. He joined Viwandani Secondary School in Dodoma City for Ordinary level secondary education prior to going to Tabora Boys for High level. He went to Mwanza where he established his tuition centre known as Calvin Swai Academy which offered tuition studies for secondary students. Late 2012, he was selected to join Muhimbili University to pursue Bachelor of Pharmacy.

He happily joined and started university journey with the urge to earn excellent performance. He did well and he was honoured and awarded several prizes offered by Vice Chancellor, Tanzania Food and Drug Authority (TFDA) (currently TMDA) and Deutches Medikamenten-Hilfswerk action medeor e V prize by Action Medeor.

Success writer interviewed him about his project.

What you do?

I teach pharmacy students and participate in assisting research activities. Apart from teaching, I participate in development of teaching materials for pharmacy profession and curricula under different umbrellas such as Ministry, National Council for Technical Education as well as Pharmacy Council.

I also participate in public health activities under youth-led organization named CoHASO where we do projects related to awareness, education and research on health promotion and protection. As an organisation in a country where so many challenges are facing health of community, we decided to start by narrowing our focus and we decided to put emphasis on adolescent health and development (AHD) specifically on Sustainable Development Goal 3 target 3.7.

The decision came after observation that to educate and bring about a behavioral change to a youth is a long time investment as they will pass it to next generation as they grow. Also as a youth organization we know better the challenges youths are facing and we can provide youth-friendly services.

How did the idea came about?

The idea of CoHASO came along back in the days when we were at school, it happened when we went for field work and realized that much knowledge is being imparted to us but a relatively small portion of it reaches the community, and in fact it reaches small population of town residents.

We started thinking on how we can supplement information and knowledge gap of health issues that exists in our community. We found that we need to have a platform, on which we can reach out underserved communities and educate them. We wrote our idea down and we registered it later under the responsible ministry and started inviting colleagues with similar interest to join us.

Please tell us how BintiAfya works?

Among four areas of concern for Adolescents Health as outlined by national strategy for adolescents health and development. We decided to start with Sexual and Reproductive Health. This is genuinely because of severe consequences of inadequate SRH education including increasing rate of HIV/AIDs new infections and unwanted pregnancies among others. Also its direct link to reduction of maternal health which is one of national agenda “jiongeze tuwavushe salama’’.

So we went through literatures and identified the gap. Couple of reports from studies conducted in Tanzania mentioned lack of education to be one of the root causes of above mentioned effects.

We agreed together to launch a project that will address this problem and provide comprehensive awareness to the society about sexual and reproductive issues. We decided to name it BintiAfya reflecting the key person we are expecting to rescue. We did a survey to come up with an approach that will favour our target group, and we decided to sandwich the use of social media and outreaches.

We prepare educational post in a language that can be consumed by many young people in the society and we offer a private space for questions and clarifications. We attend to schools and talk to girls in interactive way that allows them to express their perception and discuss together possible solutions.

The project is implemented by team comprising of comprehensive specialties; doctors, nurses, public health experts, pharmacists, social scientists and psychologist.

BintiAfya also target disabled people and it has experts to deal with people of special needs.

Was this your idea?

It is my idea which was then tailored by CoHASO team.

How do you feel about the way your creativity is being experienced by others?

I really feel good seeing the project cruising, and the team is also happy because our biggest achievement is impacting community with projects that solves their changes. Nevertheless, we inspire to see a big number of community is reached and behavior change occurs towards health promotion and protection.