UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND, SOUTH AFRICA, and UNIVERSITY OF ESWATINI, ESWATINI
Research focus: sexual and reproductive health, digital demography, and adolescent health
Over 35 million people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) currently live in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to HIV, young people continue to have high rates of sexually transmitted infections. The desire to obtain sexual health information from experts in a non-judgmental and confidential manner has prompted many young African adults to adopt new media channels to obtain sexual health information and to communicate on this topic with members of their peer-group. Early exposure to good and quality sexuality education has clear implications for avoiding sexual exploitation, abuse, and achieving healthy sexual development.
While the effectiveness of social media platforms in improving the sexual and reproductive health of young adults has been widely debated, there is very limited scholarly engagement and perspectives from the African point of view on these issues. In order to address this gap, Emmanuel’s research combines computational methods with quantitative analysis in the social sciences. In a study, he is going to test whether sexual health education communicated via social media in an interactive and youth-friendly manner will be effective in improving the sexual and reproductive health awareness of young African adults. Emmanuel’s research is set on the social media platform Facebook in the form of an online collaborative and advocacy network on sexual and reproductive health by and for young adults in Africa. For one year, Emmanuel is going to monitor and evaluate the progress. Participants of the network are being invited to complete rounds of the related online survey. He believes that winning the Green Talents award will enable him to contribute meaningfully to research capacity development in digital demography on the African continent through joint research projects with researchers and scholars in Germany.
The jury lauded the value of Emmanuel’s project for the sexual health awareness of young people in African countries. His research could also contribute to a wider access to sexual and reproductive health care information services and education.