Scaling Advocacy Where it is Needed Most: Reflections on 2014 and Aspirations for 2015 and Beyond

This guest blog was written by Kristy Kade, Country Advocacy Director at PATH.

The end of the year is a natural time to reflect on the past and aspirations for the year ahead.  The global health community achieved tremendous success in 2014.  The latest report on malaria showed that a decade-plus decline in new cases continues.  Progress has also continued against HIV – especially among children – and vaccines against polio and measles are saving millions of lives.

As we look at 2015 and beyond, I am struck by the ever increasing number of success stories that the global community– governments, international and national NGOs, socially responsible companies, faith communities, health advocates, health workers and citizens – can draw upon to move forward to create a better world where no one dies unnecessarily from preventable disease.

I believe there has been a common ingredient to our success.  And I believe that if it can be scaled up in countries of greatest need, our successes will become more frequent.  That ingredient is effective health advocacy.

The advocacy efforts that originally brought global health needs to the attention of the world, fought the rise of HIV-AIDS, and have helped bring essential vaccines to the most remote regions of the globe show the power of advocacy to improve health outcomes for communities and families everywhere.

PATH has been pleased to partner with colleagues in country on strengthening newborn care policies in Zambia and improving health access for women and children in other parts of the world.

Most recently, our colleagues’ advocacy work in India has paved the way for an emergency transportation system in Uttar Pradesh, which in 2014 became the largest public-sector ambulance service in the world.  Now, fewer women and children in UP are unnecessarily dying because they can’t reach skilled care. That is something the local state government, health advocates, and citizens can all celebrate.

These stories and more are part of our new online portal that outlines exciting work in this arena: partnering with local advocates and experts to develop and implement effective strategies for policy change. We’ve been meeting passionate and dedicated advocates in many countries in workshops that lay the foundation for advocacy success by strengthening the skills and knowledge that foster the positive change advocates can replicate time and again for long-term success.

We are seeing successes that we hope will inspire others in the global health community to join with us and invest in this work. Its efforts like this that give me hope in 2015 and beyond.  I encourage you to see how our tools can help you have greater health impact in the New Year.