Some of the participants that attended the SMART  advocacy capacity building training

From the 17th to the 18th May, Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum -UYAHF with support from Population Action International organized a 2 days capacity building and strengthening workshop on SMART advocacy and understanding the key pillars/components of Primary Health care in efforts to improve primary health care systems in Uganda. The workshop discussed strategies and created a platform for participants to share experience on the promotion of community participation in Uganda’s Primary Health Care services delivery approach and policy framework.

The two-day workshop attended by 32 representatives (5 Females and 27 Males) from the mapped CSOs working to advance PHC at the community level aimed at strengthening the coordination capacity of grassroots and national civil society organizations to meaningfully advocate for improved Primary health care systems in Uganda, advocating for the promotion of increased and meaningful community participation, equipping civil society organizations with skills in lobbying and evidence-based advocacy to create strong PHC systems that enable individuals and communities to access a full range of quality, essential health services as an essential component to achieving UHC and creating a platform for the civil society organizations to learn and share experiences and best practices in improving Uganda’s Primary Health care systems.

Health promotion and advocacy were one of the sessions during the workshop whose facilitator was Mr. Patrick Ojulong and independent consultant public health systems and health system strengthening. His presentation was centered on:

  • Evidence based collective efforts or strategy mostly targeting decision makers and designed to influence actions, programs, or policies of any type of an institution
  • How to identify key advocacy issues in the community
  • How to set advocacy objectives
  • Who to involve in your advocacy?
  • Identifying the decision maker
  • Determining your Ask

The workshop also provided a platform for participants to understand the concept of meaningfully engaging and empowering communities to take charge of their health and life. While sharing their quarterly reports, staff actively participated in sharing their working experiences and lessons learned, challenges encountered; as well as best practices to guide improvement in certain areas. Denis Kibwola, UYHAF’s program manager facilitated this session and took participants through understanding the rationale of promoting community participation as an effective strategy in improving Uganda’s PHC systems, the linkage between PHC and UHC as well as the role of CSOs and community advocates in improving the PHC systems.

Participants were equipped with SMART Advocacy Tips: No one type of argument wins the agreement of a decision maker, many decision maker-centered strategies often need and use a combination of arguments or even all three, to be effective, advocates must think carefully about which arguments may be most compelling. For example, a policymaker with a background in medicine or economics may be more interested in data analyses and projections. Consider how your request to a decision maker will integrate rational, emotional, and ethical arguments to strengthen your ability to win consensus and see policy change. There are three ways to measure success in advocacy: Outputs—Did you carry out all the advocacy activities in your work plan, Outcomes—Did you fulfill your SMART objectives and achieve a Quick Win? And Impact—Did your Quick Win improve the situation for those who need and want access to family planning?

Through the capacity building sessions on basics of project management, effective communication and documentation, resource mobilizations, and financial management; the facilitators stressed the importance of:

  • Accuracy and quality in communication and documentation
  • Developing a communications plan and effective use of the media.
  • Understanding the basics of being a good project manager
  • Making better use and maximizing existing resources and current opportunities
  • Adopting the culture of mobilizing resources to ensure the sustainability of the work we do.

The evaluation of the training showed that 85% of the participant’s knowledge in health promotion and advocacy, the linkage between PHC and UHC, and the rationale of promoting community participation had greatly improved. 75% of the participants said that the training content was entirely new to them while the 25% who had an idea on the training content revealed that the training was an eye-opener and refresher to them. All participants stated that they would use the knowledge acquired from the training to bridge the advocacy knowledge gap in their organizations but also use it to empower communities rightfully to be able to take charge of their own health and life at large.

Overall, 95% of the participants reached rated the dialogue highest in attaining the workshop’s intended objectives.

By Praise Mwesiga

praisem@uyhaf.com