Dalhousie University developed a mobile game that looks to teach African youth about STDs. The game, called STD Pong, was created after the well-known arcade game but involves African characters and storyline, educating the youth about nine kinds of sexually transmitted diseases and how they can protect themselves from a sexually transmitted infection.
science professor Rita Orji is the brains by the game. Hailing from
Nigeria, she used her interest in technology to find a way of
improving people’s health and lives.
said she likes creating things that help people and, in Africa, STDs
like HIV and other diseases are a real problem.
2016 UNESCO report shows that the completion rates for upper
secondary school in West and Central Africa were extremely low – 25
percent for girls; 35 percent for boys. With this low of completion
rate, it also means a lack of access to quality sex educational
to the report, there is a multitude of reasons such as parental
resistance as well as resistance from educators and other decision
makers due to a misunderstanding about why sex education is needed
and the effects it can provide. It said these issues hinder the
successful implementation of a well-defined, laid out sex education
what youth learn about sex and STDs comes from the streets and the
people in their lives.
Orji said people get a lot of their information from talking with friends, schoolmates, family, etc. And, in most cases, she said, the information they get isn’t facts.
Pong wants to change that!
similar to the original Pong game, but the character battles King
Aids and his eight evil henchmen such as herpes, chlamydia, syphilis,
gonorrhea and HIV. When the player faces the disease, they get
power-ups like blood abstinence, blood tests and condom use that
improve their gameplay. STD bullets come from having unprotected sex
of any kind and using an unsterilized needle or other sharp objects,
which can have a detrimental impact on the player’s health.
face increasing and complex difficulties with each level and STD
until they finally get to the last boss – King Aids. Upon
completion of a level, the player is given information about that
particular STD including symptoms and how to protect themselves.
Master’s of Computer Science student Chinenye Ndulue developed the
game for Orji. Ndulue, also from Nigeria, used the Android platform
for creating the game, as Android devices are extensively popular in
said he wanted to create the game that would allow the youth to use
their phones and learn about the different diseases in a fun but
educational way. Ndulue said developing the game has been very
to Ndulue, the game is still in its testing phase but hopes an
official release will be ready by year’s end.
Orji said funding is also necessary to see how the game’s impact is affecting people’s attitude and beliefs along with their behaviors.
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Governments throughout the world have implemented programs and initiatives to raise STD awareness and offer funding for new drugs to treat the multitude of sexually transmitted diseases being spread. These initiatives are designed to encourage drug companies to develop potent STD drugs.