The Department of Health (DoH) plans to launch a youth orientated mHealth app in June 2015 and has given its targeted audience the opportunity to name it.

The plans were announced by Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, during the African regional consultation on the United Nations’ new Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.

The competition is open to people between the ages of 10 and 24 years old to submit short, catchy titles for the app. “I’ve decided that they, the youth of this country, must own this so they must give it a name,” said Minister Motsoaledi.

The app names may be in any one of the 11 official languages but should be no more than six words. Participants are invited to submit multiple entries and a 200-word motivation by 31 May by logging onto the mobi site: yal.mobi.

The winners will be announced at the end of June 2015 and will receive prizes consisting of electronic tablets, smartphones, school bags and water bottles.

The app is envisioned to act as a communication tool between the DoH and SA’s youth. The messages sent out from the DoH will be tailored to provide information, tools and support to adolescents, teens and young adults to help them make informed choices about their health and wellbeing.

Following the success of MomConnect, the app will also allow young people to send complaints about health service delivery. By using Mxit as a platform, the app will also allow the users to participate in live chats with health professionals such gynaecologists, psychologists and even the Minister of Health himself.

“There is a gap in communication between us and them,” said Motsoaledi. “If they want to say, ‘Minister, you are providing nothing for us,’ then let me face that reality.”

The DoH is currently experimenting with ways to ensure that young people receive age-appropriate messaging. The service therefore may begin with 10 to 15 year old adolescents before moving onto to other age groups. Certain messaging may also require pass codes to guard some content against younger children.

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