Experts ready for young South Africans online


25 August 2015

Young South Africans are now able to chat online with health experts who will help them to make informed decisions about their health. This follows the launch of a new mobi-site, known as B- Wise, in Soshanguve, Tshwane.

B-Wise is an online health initiative that provides young South Africans with the information, tools and support they need to live healthier lives.

Launching the mobi-site on 20 August, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi called on all young people to make use of the platform. “We needed to have a site where we are able to communicate with adolescents,” he said.

“We want to ensure that our adolescents and the youth make informed decisions to develop their bodies and minds.”

The site offers the user factual information, real stories from other young people, and the chance to participate in polls. They can also access information on various topics such as sexual and reproductive health, mental health and substance abuse, healthy lifestyles and other social issues.

During the allocated live chat hours, users are able to speak to a range of experts such as psychologists, nutritionists and general practitioners.

They are also able to communicate directly with the minister about their daily challenges.

B-wise is managed by the Department of Health and can be accessed via an internet-enabled mobile phone. Users have to register to use the site.

Thandeka Maponya, 19, from Soshanguve Block TT, said she would now be able to talk to other young people about healthy lifestyles. “We can advise each other on problems we are encountering.”

Samuel Maboleke was happy that health information was now easily available. “As young people we need to know things that will keep us away from trouble and always stay health,” he said.

A similar initiative, Mom-Connect, was launched in 2014 for pregnant women. Through the initiative, pregnant women are able ask questions related to pregnancy and get answers or responses immediately.

To date, more than 460 000 pregnant women have registered to use the site.

Mothers-to-be can also use Mom-Connect to praise a facility or complain about poor services. To date, the department has received about 360 complaints and 2 015 compliments. The former included concerns about staff attitudes and long queues.