Zipline, EJAF take the fight against HIV/Aids to the football pitch

As World Aids Day was commemorated across the globe in the heart of Western Kenya, a groundbreaking partnership between Health and Economic Development Strategy Organization (HEDSO), Zipline, Elton John Aids Foundation (EJAF) and the County Governments of Kismu, Homa Bay and Nyamira, stood out. The partnership is transforming the healthcare landscape, leaving an indelible mark on the lives of thousands of youth.

Zipline, in collaboration with the above partners, is championing a model in Western Kenya Counties dubbed the Demedicalized Service Delivery (DSD) Model. The model seeks to layer Sexual Reproductive Healthcare (SRH) on youth events such as sports thus cutting down youth mobilization and event coordination costs.

(TOP: A soccer match for female players organised by Zipline and EJAF).

“Leveraging 56 youth events, the program has reached more than 30,000 Adolescents and Young Adults (AYAs) with Sexual Reproductive Healthcare (SRH) services and commodities. Using these events, the program has distributed 9,466 condoms, and 2,599 Self -Test Kits (STKs). It has administered 3,868 on-site HIV testing, initiated 406 youths on PrEP, 31 on PEP, and diagnosed 11 HIV-positive cases”, says Caleb Wanjala, Zipline’s Technical Lead for Global Health.

Further, the program has screened 221 clients for cervical cancer, and 19 for breast cancer. Forty-four (44) clients have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and 88 against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

The visionary strategy taps into the power of sports to draw in young minds, breaking barriers to discuss critical issues like sexual reproductive health and gender dynamics. This provides a unique safe space for discussions on sexual health, HIV/AIDS, and gender-based violence.

The turning point came with the collaboration with Zipline and the Elton John AIDS Foundation, elevating the impact to new heights. The introduction of drone technology via Zipline has revolutionized healthcare delivery, ensuring that vital supplies reach even the most remote locations. This partnership not only addresses the logistical challenges but also tackles the stigma associated with seeking healthcare services.

“Our events are now one-stop shops where young people receive information and services seamlessly. With support from Zipline and EJAF, we’ve turned community engagement into a dynamic, stigma-free experience.”

The sporting events have also become a beacon of change, attracting a growing demand from communities that appreciate the unique blend of education and service provision. The community, once recipients, now actively participates in scheduling events, demonstrating a shift towards community ownership and sustainability.

“The community understands the dynamics of these events. They now embrace them, demand them, and even schedule appointments for us. This is a testament to the success of our approach,” notes Ojuki.

The ripple effect extends beyond the youth, with Hexo Health successfully partnering with organizations addressing key populations. The events now serve as inclusive platforms, breaking down barriers and providing a gateway for critical services. Key populations, once marginalized, find a non-judgmental space for education and support.

On this World AIDS Day, Zipline, and the Elton John AIDS Foundation stand as beacons of hope, demonstrating that innovative partnerships can usher in a new era of health and empowerment for communities in need.


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