Special projects


#Keready addresses the unique needs and communication preferences of young people with respect to their health and well-being. The project was launched during the Covid-19 pandemic to encourage young people in South Africa to vaccinate against the virus at a time when uptake was low. But the project has since evolved into a health movement that combines targeted, youth-friendly communication with on-the-ground access to healthcare services.

The disconnect

This explains why the project exists

Young people comprise well over a third of South Africa’s population making them a key demographic for social, economic and political change, yet more often than not they are excluded from decision-making that has a direct impact on their lives. It’s therefore not surprising that many young people are distrustful of government, especially when faced with service delivery failures, corruption, a scarcity of opportunities and limited opportunities for social mobility. There is also a gap in health services for young people since the public sector tends to focus on sexual and reproductive health for women, while paying less attention to services relevant to men and the varied other needs of young people of all genders. This service delivery gap is compounded by poor and inadequate communication strategies. Consequently, young people are skeptical of information that is state-sponsored or delivered by paid influencers, even if it is for their own good. Instead, they rely on information from their peers, professionals and the people they know and trust.


The majority of South Africans are stuck in an inequality trap with wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. Most are stuck in intergenerational loops of exclusion with few chances to escape. Breaking this cycle requires a fundamental change in life trajectories, starting in the womb.

Think of a Möbius strip – just one twist in the circle allows you to trace a completely different pattern. Instead of being stuck on the inside of a loop, you emerge on the outside. In the same way, escaping the inequality trap requires a fundamental twist to set South Africa on a new path.

The twist in thinking

This explains how the project approaches problems

Keready seeks to encourage healthcare-seeking behaviour, active citizenry and agency among young people on the digital platforms they use and engage with. And, this is how the project does it: Keready recruits young ex-community service doctors, supported by a team of nurses, to talk to young people about their health in a lingo that is palatable and relatable and uses a mix of digital platforms, such as TikTok, Instagram and WhatsApp. Keready puts young people in control of the message, encourages participation in programmes and public health activities and offers unfiltered health information. No jargon and no judgement are just some of the Keready principles for communication and mobilisation. The message is clear: you have to reach young people where they are and speak their language.

It’s implemented by the DG Murray Trust in partnership with the National Department of Health (NDoH) and is funded by the German government through the KfW Development Bank (KfW).

The approach is rooted in a clear communications strategy with straightforward health information shared nationally, reaching millions of young people weekly. Community radio and social media are strategic platforms, including the “WhatsApp a Doctor” line where health-related questions are answered by Keready doctors and nurses.

The Covid-19 pandemic was the catalyst for Keready as it became increasingly important to encourage young people to vaccinate through digital communication platforms. But Keready has since evolved into a movement that offers mobile health services to young people (12–34-year-olds) in communities that often lack access to healthcare services. Starting in late 2022, the project reached full scale with the introduction of a complete fleet of 46 mobile health clinics in four provinces: the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. This meant that Keready could offer a range of health services, such as screenings and tests for HIV, TB and diabetes, family planning, immunisations and more.

Keready is also helping to improve available public services by sharing what it’s learnt with the NDoH. Trending youth health issues and lessons learnt from the Keready WhatsApp line and mobile clinics are shared with the NDoH so that stakeholders working in health can use this information to improve and update their own initiatives.

The trajectory change

This explains what the project is doing to make a difference

Keready engages with a vibrant user base through its WhatsApp line where it successfully reached nearly 90 000 young people across South Africa by February 2024. Keready communicators and mobilisers visit communities and actively promote the services provided at its mobile clinics. Proactive one-on-one engagement with young people and working closely with NGOs help to drive interest and uptake of services.

By February 2024, Keready achieved the following reach:

  • More than 400 000 people were seen at mobile clinics.
  • Half a million school learners were reached.
  • An estimated 37 million people were reached via community radio stations.
  • 16 million people were reached through digital media.
  • 29 000 people have subscribed to receive alerts from Keready.
Keready is endorsed by the Minister of Health and partners with NGOs and community organisations that focus on youth health and wellness, demonstrating how effective public-private partnerships can be to extend health services.

Trying to change life trajectories is ambitious and profound. It requires us to radically influence the lives of individuals and to be part of changing the circumstances in which they live.

Helpful Resources

Useful Links

Keready website:

WhatsApp a doctor:
060 019 0000 or click here

Connect with Keready on social media:

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