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July 2, 2024

GHAI Champions Epidemic Preparedness at 2024 Global Health Security Conference

The Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) and its partners showcased a commitment to epidemic preparedness at the Global Health Security Conference in Sydney, Australia in June, emphasizing the importance of strategic advocacy, capacity-building and multi-sectoral collaboration. 

Domestic Resource Mobilization Sessions

GHAI hosted two conference sessions, including the "Domestic Resource Mobilization for Epidemic Preparedness" interactive workshop. The workshop's "World Café" format sparked lively discussions on landscape analysis, coalition building, media advocacy and accountability. Participants delved into GHAI's proven Advocacy Action Guide, exploring, among other examples, how it empowered Uganda to secure the landmark $15.4 million in government funding for epidemic preparedness and response for the just begun financial year. This was the result of its advocacy work with a local partner—the Uganda National Health Consumers’ Organization (UNHCO). The session's energy and engagement extended well beyond its scheduled time, underscoring the urgent need and growing momentum for sustainable, locally driven solutions to epidemic preparedness.

During a breakfast session, co-hosted with the Legislative Initiative for Sustainable Development (LISDEL), Vandana Shah, GHAI’s Vice President for Health Systems Strengthening. delivered a key message highlighting the essential role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in driving sustainable and accountable domestic resource mobilization. “Increasing budgets is not enough; ensuring accountable spending is what truly saves lives and ensures sustainability,” she stated. 

Shah further stressed the need for governments to prioritize epidemic preparedness in the post-COVID era to save lives.

Country Advocacy Successes

Both of these sessions highlighted GHAI’s work in Ghana and Nigeria and served as compelling examples of how locally-led advocacy can mobilize significant domestic resources and influence policy change. In Ghana, political mapping and budget advocacy tools helped to kickstart processes toward the establishment of a public health emergency fund. In Nigeria, GHAI’s efforts culminated in a more than 100 percent increase in budget for the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) between 2019 and 2022, creation of new budget lines for epidemic preparedness in Kano and Lagos states, establishment of the Kano State Health Trust Fund and significant progress toward a national Public Health Emergency Fund Bill.

GHAI delegates also emphasized the importance of building capacity among stakeholders, particularly non-health professionals. They informed attendees of the ongoing CSO Budget Academy, a nine-month program in partnership with Resolve to Save Lives. This academy aims to create a movement of advocates across Africa, leveraging successful campaigns from Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania.

Partner Media Advocacy Recognition 

GHAI partners Nigeria Health Watch (NHW) and LISDEL were awarded second runner-up for best poster presentation at the conference. The poster, presented by Ibukun Oguntola, highlighted the #PreventEpidemicsNaija project run by both institutions, which used media advocacy to enhance health security financing. The strategy, supported by GHAI, trained over 100 journalists, whose reporting increased the demand for EPR funding in Nigeria. This media-driven advocacy led to a doubling of EPR funding from N1.4 billion to N3.8 billion within two years.

Key Takeaways

GHAI’s presence at the Global Health Security Conference highlighted our unwavering commitment to strengthening health systems and empowering local advocates. By fostering multi-sectoral collaboration and leveraging strategic advocacy on the ground, GHAI continues to canvass for interventions that protect communities from infectious disease threats and build resilient health systems worldwide. The recognition of NHW’s media advocacy work, supported by GHAI, and the growing interest in GHAI’s CSO Budget Academy underscore the impact of the organization’s efforts in promoting innovative, sustainable and accountable health security measures.