Recurring global health crises underscore the critical need for countries to prepare for public health emergencies. The Global Health Advocacy Incubator's (GHAI) Prevent Epidemics program team organized a two-day workshop titled Epidemic Preparedness Advocacy: Building Awareness and Political Will for Sustainable Health Security Programs on July 25th and 26th for civil society advocates in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, to share effective advocacy strategies to improve epidemic preparedness. The workshop aimed to build awareness of the importance of epidemic preparedness and the role of advocacy in building political will for health security funding.

The workshop hosted civil society participants representing 16 organizations from nine countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The workshop focused discussions around how to design an advocacy campaign for epidemic preparedness using the GHAI Prevent Epidemics program’s Budget Advocacy Toolkit for Epidemic Preparedness, and conducted interactive sessions to review and explore the four phases of a budget advocacy campaign outlined in the GHAI Prevent Epidemics program’s Budget Advocacy Framework for Increased and Sustained Epidemic Preparedness Investment. These comprehensive tools offer instructive guidance and worksheets covering the four phases of a budget advocacy campaign: campaign planning, campaign implementation, budget accountability and budget sustainability. 

GHAI and our partners in Nigeria and Ghana led sessions and robust discussions around advocacy and effective approaches to engage decision-makers in government. The discussions covered lessons learned from GHAI’s Prevent Epidemics programs in Nigeria and Ghana supported by Resolve to Save Lives (RTSL). By sharing best practices and challenges faced, attendees gained insights into effective strategies for raising public and political will for reliable and sustained funding for epidemic preparedness.

One of the primary outcomes of the workshop was to build a community of engaged civil society organizations (CSOs) to support country-led advocacy. Through targeted advocacy, civil society can effectively communicate the urgency of epidemic preparedness investments and highlight the importance of sustained domestic funding to address health security challenges. During the workshop, CSO representatives brainstormed ways to strengthen political will for epidemic preparedness policies and funding based on their respective advocacy experiences and toolkit guidance.

By the end of the workshop, participants gained a fuller understanding of the four phases of a budget advocacy campaign and identified strategies that may be missing from their own campaigns – such as the use of a comprehensive communications plan or building a broad coalition of advocates. These strategies support the design and implementation of effective country-level advocacy campaigns.

GHAI's commitment to epidemic preparedness advocacy does not end with the workshop. As a follow-up, GHAI will engage this expanded and growing community of advocates in the African Region, with the aim of encouraging and fostering partnerships and collaborations among CSOs to support and amplify voices for health security.

The two-day workshop was an important step toward building advocacy capacity to strengthen health security in the African Region through knowledge sharing and collaborative learning among a range of CSO experts and Prevent Epidemics program partners: Nigeria Health Watch, the Legislative Network for Sustainable Development, SEND-Ghana, and RTSL. Armed with the insights gained from the workshop, these advocates can carry forward impactful advocacy campaigns that promote the prioritization of epidemic preparedness with increased and sustained funding towards a healthier and more resilient Africa.

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