Many young people still fear to go to health centers to access sexual reproductive health services. One of the major reasons for this is the lack of confidentiality due to having to queue and sign the patient book. Our SAUTIPlus e-referral cards have gone a long way to eliminate these concerns. If a young person is referred using these cards they get priority and there is no need to queue. Young people are facing a range of health challenges, many of which are foreign to them. Therefore, they often feel embarrassed by them. This is especially the case for adolescents, whose bodies are going through a series of changes because of puberty.
Ninsiima Daphne, one of the health workers at Ngugo, told us how “With the SAUTIPlus referral system, peer educators have helped mobilize the young people in our community and those who used to fear me no longer do so. Young people now feel more at ease to access health services.”
The passion these health workers and nurses have for their job is clearly evident. Their motivations for doing what they do are inspiring. Nurse Profit from Ruena told us her dream for how she wishes to transform her community. “Before I leave this health center, I want to be remembered for reducing the spread of sexually transmitted infections among young people in Ruena village. I am grateful because this referral system has eased the way I communicate with young people.” she said.
The e-referral system is helping these health professionals achieve the goals they set out for themselves when they first dreamed about helping people through their profession.
The system is easy to use, the e-referral cards have QR codes that the peer educator scan to open up a link to enter the information of the young person being referred. The health worker at the designated health centre then receives a notification that a patient has been referred to them for a service. The peer educator can track the progress of their referral and see whether their fellow peer has gone for their service. They can then follow up with the young person and continue to build a rapport. A good rapport is essential for the peer-to-peer approach to be effective. If young people trust the peer educators then they will feel comfortable to continue to approach them for advice and information.
We provided peer educators with smartphones so that they could download and use the app, which is necessary for the e-referrals. The health workers were given tablets to replace their desktop computers. Tablets are far simpler to learn how to use and due to their portability, they are more beneficial for the nurses and health workers who have very mobile jobs.
The SautiPlus E referral system means that even more young people across Mbarara will no longer feel intimidated to go to the health center. The system has revolutionized health-seeking behavior across the region. This will benefit young people on a personal level up to the entire community.