Across the world, numerous barriers prevent girls from accessing the sexual reproductive health services (SRH) they need. Indeed, 29 countries require women to gain the consent of a spouse or partner to access such services, and in another 45 countries, parents must give consent for their children to access HIV testing services if they are 17 years or younger.
Structural challenges like these can take significant time and effort to overcome. Other barriers, however, such as persistent myths around contraception or intention-action gaps are more suited to behavioural interventions. By testing and iterating carefully crafted interventions designed for the local context, behavioural science can help reduce some of the challenges girls face accessing counselling and SRH services.
The Behavioural Insights Team and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, have partnered to apply and test behavioural insights aimed at helping girls overcome some of the barriers to free SRH services take-up in Kenya. This ongoing work is being conducted alongside local interventions – such as In Their Hands (ITH) as well as its partner implementer, Triggerise – and their teams in Kenya, who manage the implementation of the project. Through ITH, girls enrol via a digital platform to receive free SRH services, counselling, and SMS reminders about appointments, among other services.
Our collaboration will take the form of research to uncover the main barriers girls face to using SRH services in Kenya. We will also carry out two randomised controlled trials which will test the impact of variations in the communications to girls enrolled in the ITH programme, as well as variations in ITH’s existing incentives, on take-up of counselling and free SRH services. We expect to have results by the end of the year.
Through this exciting collaboration, we hope to draw on the expertise of each party to effect positive behavioural change that will increase equal access to health services for all girls in Kenya and shed light on effective communication strategies for implementing and evaluating behavioural insights interventions to complex policy problems.