Begin by making a list of all the people and organizations interested in health and who will be affected by changes in health policy—from citizens and patient groups through to professional medical associations and health NGOs. These are your potential allies. They do not need to be already engaged in health advocacy but can join you on the journey. They may also bring significant knowledge and experience to the campaign.
Your allies will be those that are supportive of UHC and increased health budgets and also believe UHC needs to be equitable, inclusive and rooted in human rights. They will value and support the participation of civil society and communities in health policy decision-making.
Don’t just include the usual suspects. The broader your coalition, the stronger it will be. You may need to do some research to reach partners beyond your usual circles. You can find advocacy allies within academic institutions, development partners, the local media, community leaders, and other human rights movements, such as social justice, gender equality or tax justice.
Complete Tool 4: Stakeholder Analysis Matrix to identify the people and organizations that you will need to collaborate closely with or invite to form an advocacy coalition or joint campaign. Understanding where stakeholders are on this matrix will make your advocacy more effective.
High interest: stakeholders who have similar interests or goals to your own
Low interest: stakeholders with differing interests or goals to your own
High influence: stakeholders who have significance and power
Low influence: stakeholders with little significance or power
What to watch: Poor, marginalized and vulnerable communities have low influence but high interest in your goals. Their voices can easily get lost in broad coalitions with larger and more established organizations, especially when seeking consensus. Take care to ensure that decision-making processes within coalitions and campaigns provide safe space for them to contribute and participate meaningfully.
Local-level example: White Ribbon Alliance in Kenya
Even in countries where national discussions include a UHC framework, there are often gaps in implementation at the local level. Civil society and communities play a crucial role in advocacy and accountability for progress on UHC for all populations. In Kenya, the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) began the ‘UHC For Me’ project to prioritize the most vulnerable and respond to their needs through UHC.
From 2020 to 2021, WRA Kenya worked with women and girls living with disabilities through a grassroots partner, Youth For Sustainable Development, to demand changes at service provision points in Bungoma County. They also supported their social accountability and advocacy efforts on national action on UHC.
County health leadership committed to the priority demands of women and girls living with disabilities, including introducing inclusive information desks and accessible facilities in two health centres. Women and girls living with disabilities participated in community validation gatherings in villages within the county to develop these priorities and action plans. Through WRA Kenya’s support, these community advocates also met health facility management committees at the target centres.
With support from the health facility management, community advocates held a roundtable with county leaders and targeted Members of the County Assembly. Women and girls living with disabilities specifically sought to influence the county budgetary processes, pushing for the allocation of funds to facilitate proposed facility improvements. The community champions will continue to engage with the county officials to ensure commitments are met and advocate for inclusive, accessible UHC.
Source: White Ribbon Alliance, Kenya