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Desmond Nji A.

Desmond Nji A. - 2019 Nominee
Position: Founder
Organization: Deserve
Master's of Science from Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia
Additional Degrees and Certifications:
Postgraduate Technical Teacher Diploma in Economics;
Leading Change Certificate of Completion, University of Cambridge
Bachelor of Science in Economics
Graduate Teacher Diploma
Awards Received:
  • Award:
    OFID Scholarship Award
    Awarding Organization:
    OPEC Fund for International Development
    Date Awarded:
    June 14, 2018
  • Award:
    UNLEASH Gold Award for Health Innovation
    Awarding Organization:
    UNLEASH
    Date Awarded:
    August 20, 2017
  • Award:
    Cameroon Best Youth Leader for the Fight Against HIV
    Awarding Organization:
    Project for the Prevention of HIV in Central Africa (sub-region)
    Date Awarded:
    December 17, 2013
75 Public Votes Reached!
Desmond has been an active voice in issues dealing with the health and well-being of adolescents for more than a decade. He has leveraged his youthfulness in running 4 projects in Deserve, Cameroon, aimed to increase access to SRHR for young people. – Margaret Bolaji, Youth Program Advisor at Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

After a UNICEF-led training in Nairobi in 2012, I led the ‘Shuga Radio’ project in the Northwest region of Cameroon; using the radio, edutainment series—‘Shuga’—and common lingua frranca to educate and sensitise adolescents on their sexual and reproductive health (SRH), family planning and HIV. More than 10,000 youth who got direct counselling and did their HIV tests were recorded testifying that they were motivated by ‘Shuga Radio.’

Between 2016 and 2019, I won and led 4 grants, enabling us train 68 school counsellors on teaching comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in secondary schools; with family planning as a key topic. We also developed a toolkit to collect and analyse disaggregated data on adolescent health and well-being; to track behaviour change after teaching/counselling.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

I grew up in a community where unintended pregnancy was regretfully widespread. Most of the girls drop out of school. I was upset when 2 of my teenage nieces nearly died from pregnancy-related causes and dropped out of school. The situation in the far-flung areas is more dismal as access to basic family planning information is a rarity. Having had training in the topics as an adolescent, I was passionate to let my peers have same because I felt we all deserve unbiased information about our SRH.

Give one or two examples of how you display leadership in your family planning work.:

Through my 2 CSE grants and the Advocating for Change for Adolescents Project, I led a team of youth and government officials to develop the Adolescent Health and Well-being Package consisting of: a toolkit for collecting and analyzing disaggregated data on adolescent health and well-being, in response to SRH and family planning lessons and services in secondary schools; a CSE manual and an advocacy toolkit in English and French. These tools are currently in the review and dissemination phase.

If you are named a winner of 120 under 40, how will you use this new platform and the $1000 grant to advance your work? :

If named a 120 Under 40 winner, I will use the platform to build a coalition with other Cameroonian winners to facilitate a joint advocacy targeting the Cameroon Ministry of Public Health to fulfill Cameroon’s FP2020 commitments before the end of 2020.

I will use my $1,000 grant to support the building of a digital application containing the Adolescent Health and Well-being Package to be accessible to young people and school counsellors.

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