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12th April, 2017

Six countries, diverse experiences: lessons learnt from the AHBN training


Topic
Health Budget Advocacy
Health Care Financing


Read about experiences and lessons learnt from a training in Health budget advocacy, co-convened by the Africa Health Budget Network and E4A-MamaYe.
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Africa faces a high disease burden and lack of adequate funds for healthcare. Despite progress made over the years to address gaps in health systems, it is important that there is a shift in the current healthcare financing landscape to ensure that governments are more accountable and transparent in the use of financial resources for health.

The Africa Health Budget Network and E4A - MamaYe co-convened a training on health budget advocacy in Nairobi, Kenya, April 4-7, 2017. Six civil society organisations attended the training from Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cameroon, based on a recent call for applications. The participants were drawn from the following CSOs: Positive Generation – Cameroon, Community Health Education Services and Advocacy (CHESA) – Tanzania, Education as a Vaccine (EVA) – Nigeria, The Pan African Institute for Consumer Citizenship and Development (CICODEV) – Senegal, Health Alert – Sierra Leone, and Kenya Aids National Consortium (KANCO) – Kenya.

All six countries are also beneficiaries of the Global Financing Facility (GFF). GFF is an innovative financing model in support of Every Woman, Every Child that aims to strengthen improvements in reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health. It hopes to mobilise more domestic resources as well as funds from the private sector, donors, the World Bank and other multilaterals.

The training helped to build the capacity of civil society organizations in health budget advocacy and improving their role in the implementation of the Global Financing Facility (GFF). The training was intense and provided unique opportunities for sharing experiences from the six participating African nations. Below are key reflections from the training:

Day 1: Participants gained skills on how to conduct health budget analysis using internationally accepted standards. This allows them to interrogate health budgets and develop an advocacy strategy to influence change. Useful tips on how to effectively package data and how to develop a communication and advocacy strategy were shared to the participants.

"It was refreshing to note that we can analyse health budgets despite us not being economists" Victor Lansana Koroma – Sierra Leone

Day 2: Participants gained skills on building effective partnerships in order to effectively implement an advocacy strategy. Advocacy can help to catalyse changes in the health systems so that greater benefits can be passed on to the citizens. The use of coalitions and effective targeting of decision makers with the right information was emphasised. Civil societies from Kenya, Cameroon and Senegal were able to share their experiences on engagement and their roles on GFF.

"Advocacy is more effective when the right partners are engaged and evidence-based messages are conveyed to the decision makers for action" Veronica Rodrick – Tanzania

Day 3: Participants were able to role play as officials from civil society, local government, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance. It was interesting to see serious engagement that was based on skills gathered during the training. Country action plans were drawn to guide advocacy objectives that the CSOs will pursue when they are back in their respective countries.

"Advocacy is a useful tool that will bring realistic change in the health systems in Africa" Fred Muturi – Kenya

Cocktail: On Thursday evening more civil society organisations in Kenya joined us for a regional GFF reception co-hosted by the Health Non-Governmental Organizations Network (HENNET), Kenya Aids National Consortium (KANCO) and Waci Health. It was great to meet representatives of the World Bank, Ministry of Health and a Politician – Member of County Assembly in Nairobi County. The cocktail provided an opportunity to discuss developments in the GFF and the role of state and non-state actors. Effective partnerships between state and non-state actors will be instrumental in promoting transparency and accountability in GFF implementation.

"Good advocacy is strengthened by credible evidence and the real aim is to ensure that the citizens of a county or sub-national unit receive better quality health care” Ibitein Modupe Fiberesima – Nigeria

The participants are grateful to AHBN for the useful and practical skills that they gained during the training sessions to help them become better advocates of health in their own country. What will be your role in advocating for better healthcare financing in Africa?

This blog was contributed by Boniface Mbuthia, a healthcare financing advisor working with Options Consultancy based in Bungoma County, Kenya.

What will be your role in advocating for better healthcare financing in Africa?