At PATH, we focus a lot of attention on global health technologies, tools, and delivery innovation. Over the years, that’s been our strength. Our work has accelerated progress in improving the lives of hundreds of millions of women and children around the world. It’s work I have been proud to advocate for over the last eight years.
Many will argue—myself included—that all too often there’s been a top-down approach to addressing public health at the global level: donor country “w” funds “x” project in country “y” that is “accomplished” by “z” international nonprofit organization.
Where does the local community fit into this equation?
More and more attention is being placed on this important question. And rightfully so. It isn’t that previous efforts have completely left the local community out—local support and involvement have always been essential components to in-country public health work. Where more attention—innovation even—is needed is on building the capacity for local advocates to advance policy change in their own communities and for countries to more efficiently bring lifesaving innovation to their neighbors and citizens.
There are a growing number of successful efforts to build advocacy capacity at the local level that have contributed to current health gains. PATH is working to create sustainable advocacy impact in the communities we and our partners are serving now and in the future. This work helps ensure that our innovation in products, tools, and health system delivery have the greatest impact.
Through years of development of testing of advocacy approaches in the field, PATH has developed an accessible ten-part advocacy impact framework (562 KB) that provides a deliberate method for achieving advocacy success at the local level. Our approach to advocacy is practical, outcome-oriented, and designed to build the skills and knowledge needed to foster positive policy change. Local advocates can independently apply these skills toward their local needs and goals. Local agenda setting is our top priority, and it is working.
We have been fortunate enough to work with partners in more than 50 countries, primarily within Africa and Asia, to strengthen their ability to influence policy changes that support local health objectives. I knew we were starting to reach our goals when our partner at African Family Health in Kenya told us: “I have used the methodology to assist three national civil society organizations to clarify their advocacy goals and objectives and to craft advocacy messages to articulate concerns about service delivery around the free maternity care policy in Kenya. The communiqué has now been delivered to the president in person by key religious leaders.”
Each of our partnerships is tailored to the specific needs of the clients we serve, with a specific focus on local ownership, cross-sector learning and networking, and close collaboration among advocates and technical health experts and practitioners.
Learn more about our advocacy tools and capacity support. No matter what the health issue, we aim to help new and experienced advocates maximize their advocacy impact to extend the scale and sustainability of effective solutions. We’re ready for whatever is next—let us know how we can help!
- Rachel Wilson was formerly the senior director of Advocacy and Public Policy at PATH.