The Shai-Osudoku Teenage Pregnancy Initiative (SOTPI)

The Shai-Osudoku Teenage Pregnancy Initiative (SOTPI) is a global health initiative  led by YSYF in partnership with the University of Toronto International Health Program (UTIHP). It is funded by the Community Engagement Project (CEP).

Its overarching goal is to address adolescent pregnancy in the Shai-Osudoku District of Ghana, a remote and underserved community, through three specific objectives:

1. Providing education on family planning and reproductive agency/autonomy,

2. Reducing stigma surrounding teenage pregnancy, and

3. Providing support to women who have experienced teenage pregnancy by offering health education and facilitating connection with community resources.

We will achieve these objectives over a five-month time period (January to May 2021) by a) delivering a 4-month education program on family planning, consent, sociocultural enablers/stigma reduction, and maternal health via local to 1,000+ listeners, b) adapting and presenting these talks at partner institutions, and c) developing and disseminating a video on consent for sexual activity in two local languages (Twi and Ewe) to 7,000+ Ghanaians.

This is an interdisciplinary collaboration involving students in medicine, global health and health studies at the University of Toronto, who assist in the development of educational content for the radio program and social media, as well as develop multimedia for the consent video under guidance from advisors. The work is developed in partnership with Ghanaian leaders, including health care professionals, community leaders, and NGOs to ensure cultural safety.



This project would not be possible without the support of our advisors at the University of Toronto and affiliated institutions, who offer guidance on the content of our broadcast, monitoring and evaluation, and general mentorship in the field of global health.

Sexual and Reproductive Health

Mariame Ouedraogo, PhD Candidate, Epidemiology, Dalla Lana School of Public Health

Mariame Ouedraogo is a Ph.D. Student in Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Before starting her Ph.D., she worked as a Research Analyst at the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health, where she supported several NGO-led reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH) projects through research and evaluation. She contributed to projects implemented in Malawi, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, and Senegal. Her diverse experiences have enabled her to develop a solid skill set in quantitative and qualitative methods and global health research.

Stigma and Sociocultural Enablers of Adolescent Pregnancy

Dr. Lesley Gittings, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Toronto & University of Cape Town

Lesley is a postdoctoral research fellow with the Universities of Toronto and Cape Town with an interest in social justice and the social and structural factors that shape health across the life course. Her research focuses on: (1) understanding and addressing gender inequities and social determinants of health for HIV and sexual and reproductive health (SRH)-related outcomes; and (2) engaging participatory and community-based research approaches for the empowerment and well-being of adolescents from marginalised communities. Interested in how participatory methods can support the meaningful involvement of adolescents in research, policy and programming, she engages culturally grounded, strengths-based approaches in her research. Her interests in research include: social justice, resilience, health equity, traditional approaches to health and well-being, gender, HIV and SRH of adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa and Canada.

Lesley leads a multi-site participatory study on adolescent health and development-related outcomes in South Africa and Kenya with the Accelerate Achievement for Africa’s Adolescents Hub. She works with her supervisor, Professor Carmen Logie and her SSHINE lab portfolio on studies on adolescence, HIV/SRH and health and well-being in Toronto, the Northwest Territories, Uganda and Jamaica. 

Lesley holds a PhD in Public Health and a Master’s in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Cape Town in South Africa. She has a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) from the University of Ottawa. She has worked in the HIV and health sectors in Canada and Southern Africa for 15 years.

Maternal Health

Dr. Ashley Vandermorris, Staff Pediatrician, SickKids Hospital

Dr. Ashley Vandermorris is a Staff Paediatrician in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at SickKids and a member of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health. Dr. Vandermorris completed her undergraduate degree at Yale University, her medical degree at Harvard Medical School, a residency in Paediatrics and fellowships in Adolescent Medicine and Global Child Health at SickKids, and an MSc in Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at U of T. As an Adolescent Medicine physician, she is committed to championing the ideals of accessibility, advocacy, equity, justice and collaboration as the fundamental tenets that will enable improved health outcomes for youth. Dr. Vandermorris works in the Transgender Youth Clinic and the Young Families Programs within the Division of Adolescent Medicine, where her clinical focus is on supporting youth navigating the intersections of social determinants of health to achieve healthy developmental trajectories. Her research program explores collaborative and integrated approaches to transforming health systems to promote improved mental and physical health outcomes for youth, in both the local and the global context. Her work emphasizes participatory methods and working with intersectoral, multidisciplinary teams to examine adolescent-responsive, rights-based models of care.

Dr. Hilary Brown, Canada Research Chair, Disability & Reproductive Health, University of Toronto

Hilary Brown, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, in the Department of Health & Society (Scarborough Campus) and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (St. George Campus). She is cross-appointed to the Temerty Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and is an Adjunct Scientist at Women’s College Hospital and ICES. Dr. Brown holds a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Disability & Reproductive Health. Her research program uses epidemiologic methods to examine maternal and child health across the life course, with a particular focus on populations with disabilities and chronic disease.

Danielle Denwood, Midwife and Global Health Professional, McMaster University

Danielle Denwood is a Midwife and Global Health Professional (CPM, MSc GH) with substantial leadership experience and success in building partnerships in sub-Saharan Africa and North America. With a focus on capacity-building related to maternal, newborn and child health, and human resources for health, her career highlights include: consultations with NGOs and the World Health Organization to support strategic goals; designing and delivering global health simulations; and developing a continuing education manual for international midwives. Danielle is currently working at McMaster University as a Global Health Coordinator and Communications Manager.