January 22, 2014 |

What’s advocacy mean to global health?

Man stands next to woman holding a young child.
Advocacy helps ensure solutions to challenges in global health reach the people who need them. Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.

Believe it or not, advocacy is as much a part of your daily life as it is mine. Have you ever signed a petition to show your support for a cause or approached friends to speak up for change that you felt strongly about?  Whether it’s working to place a stop sign on the corner of your street or to add newborn health protections to national health policy, advocacy is democracy in action.

In global health, we talk a lot about the importance and influence of advocacy. Rarely, though, do we break down what this really means.

A champion for better global health

To put it simply, it’s not enough to invent or implement solutions to global health problems. The global health community must secure the support of decision-makers, policymakers, and others who can commit the necessary resources and enact supportive policies to bring these solutions to scale. It takes advocacy as well as ingenuity to ensure that existing solutions, as well as those in development, can reach the people who need them most.

What does it take to ensure that these innovations result in sustainable improvement? Resources and political will—informed by the experts and communities who understand what is needed.

How we approach advocacy

At PATH, our advocates work to ensure that donors and developing countries make funding and policy decisions that will have the greatest health impact.
At the heart of PATH’s work in advocacy is our distinctive approach to achieving public health goals through policy change. What makes our policy advocacy work unique is our diverse areas of expertise—as a research organization, as an implementer, and as an adviser on key global health platforms. We use this expertise to improve policies and leverage resources that will ultimately accelerate the delivery of global health services and innovations that save lives.

Staff at PATH work to influence government priorities and decisions by increasing awareness and engaging with policymakers, key constituencies, and other important individuals and groups. Each year, we determine the areas in which our advocacy work can have the greatest impact. Always among our priorities are child health, women’s and newborn health, infectious diseases, and research and development for global health technologies.

A powerful tool for change

Advocacy is one of the many powerful tools that PATH uses to drive transformative innovation to save lives. By influencing the priorities and actions of those in power, we work to create a policy environment that supports good health and equity around the world.

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  • Portrait of a smiling woman.
    Rachel Wilson was formerly the senior director of Advocacy and Public Policy at PATH.