The Mayor of Mukono – an advocate for resources for family planning in Uganda.

Family Planning Champions

A family planning (FP) champion is a key influencer who believes in and actively supports FP and adolescent and youth sexual reproductive health (AYSRH).

Champions draw on their expertise, networks, position of authority as well as their visibility, social recognition, and power to positively influence perceptions, attitudes, and decisions to create a supportive policy and social environment for acceptance and implementation of FP/AYSRH interventions.

In each geography, a diverse array of champions support Tupange Pamoja’s activities. They include: politicians and policymakers (including mayors and governors), staff from the ministries of health, finance, planning, or information (e.g. RH coordinators, Directors of Health, etc) and health facility directors, health care workers and service providers. 

 

Why Are Family Planning Champions Important?

The Mayor of Mukono addressing riders on the importance of seeking health services, including family planning services.

  • Serve as internal catalysts in building goodwill and support across communities from within community, religious and political leadership structures
  • Add credibility to interventions that aim to increase financial resources and supportive environment for FP/AYSRH
  • Help to promote social acceptability of FP and decrease stigma

Tupange Pamoja recruits and trains FP champions to:

  • Keep FP and AYSRH on the government agenda
  • Advocate for supportive policies at the regional level
  • Mobilize resources for the operationalization of FP/AYSRH programs
  • Promote increased allocations each subsequent year
  • Make positive public statements (including sermons and prayers) at the community level on the benefits/ importance of FP/AYSRH including dispelling myths and misconceptions
  • Disseminate achievements made by the project in order to garner continued support
  • Increase awareness of the benefits of FP and AYSRH on TV and radio programs
  • Attend joint planning, monitoring, or dissemination meetings

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Evidence

Advocacy by FP champions has resulted in:

  • Mobilization of resources for FP/AYSRH programs: Cities that self-selected to participate in Tupange Pamoja committed $1.1 million in 2017/8 and this increased to $1.4 million in 2018/9.
  • Prioritization of proven, evidence-based FP/AYSRH interventions and incorporation in annual work plans or strategic plans.
  • Mobilization of dialogues with gatekeepers due to collaboration with multisectoral ministry, such as the Ministry of Gender.
  • Consensus among community leaders in support of FP/AYSRH: Through community dialogues, sensitization forums have yielded a common voice in support of FP/AYSRH. Tupange Pamoja has been able to work with community leaders, gatekeepers, parents and religious leaders during advocacy meetings.
  • Continued discussion around FP/AYSRH in the media due to sensitization and training of journalists. Radio programs have been aired to educate and create awareness of the benefits of FP.
  • Increased demand for FP (Mobilization and promotion of FP services).

Tupange Pamoja’s male champions are essential to the male engagement strategy. Through various proven approaches, male champions leverage their relative power as politicians and religious and community leaders to promote the uptake and acceptance of family planning across TCI geographies in East Africa.

Guidance: How to Mobilize and Support Family Planning Champions

Champions are drawn from a broad range of backgrounds and different sectors of the community and are trained and utilized accordingly based on who and what they can influence.

  1. Support the local government to identify and select individuals who are well-known throughout the health system for their enthusiasm for FP and who are motivated, willing and eager to serve as public advocates for FP. NOTE: Supporters may be more difficult to identify for lesser known, or more controversial, topics such as AYSRH. In these cases, work with community influencers to identify who can be engaged.
  2. Orient and train the selected champions on advocacy tactics. Tailor the training based on the message they will deliver and the audience they will target. Training can include:
    • Identifying the best decision maker for a specific outcome
    • Crafting and delivering the message, including selecting the best messenger
    • Public speaking
    • Media training, such as how to confidently and effectively interact with journalists and reporters
  3. Provide them with relevant tools, advocacy briefs, messages and information packages including IEC materials.
  4. Develop an action plan for activities they can support. Look into the future and anticipate where FP champions can specifically enhance other activities. Think outside the box and consider using advocates even in instances when they have typically not been utilized.

Champions at the Facility Level

  1. Identify and select champions from various service delivery points within the facility. They must be willing, supportive, and influential within their work area of influence.
  2. Organize an orientation meeting for the champions to better prepare them to speak about various FP/AYSRH activities at the facility.
  3. Provide printed information packages on FP/AYSRH with messages on integration, postpartum family planning, method mix, etc.
  4. Schedule review meetings with the champions to update them on FP/AYSRH activities within the facility.
  5. Recognize and reward champions to ensure a vibrant and sustainable process.

The following demonstrates the desired outcomes for Tupange Pamoja and who champions target with advocacy activities.

Target audience Desired outcomes
Technical and political leadership
  • Increased and sustained resources for FP/AYSHR/RH
  • Development, implementation, and dissemination of supportive policies
  • Support for specific FP/AYSRH interventions
Health providers, community health management teams, CECs, accountants
  • Provision of quality FP services
  • Utilization of evidence-based approaches
  • Integration of FP/AYSRH activities – no missed opportunities (See pages 30-33 of Kenya National Family Planning Guidelines)
  • Promotion of FP and provision of accurate information
Community
  • Dispelled myths and misconceptions about FP/AYSRH
  • Increased knowledge about the benefits of FP
  • Improved attitudes towards FP and AYSRH
  • Improved knowledge of services available, including referral services
Media
  • Dissemination of accurate information on FP/RH
  • Public dialogue around FP/RH
  • Educating the general public about benefits of FP
  • Demanding policy implementation
Key Outcomes
  • Reduced myths and misconceptions at community level around FP
  • Integration of FP/AYSRH in other service delivery points
  • No missed opportunities to offer FP information or services at facilities
  • Increased resource allocation for implementation of FP/AYSRH interventions
Monitoring Processes
  • Track the relevant activities champions are involved in
  • Outcomes of the activities in which champions have engaged
Success Indicators
  • Number of events where family planning/AYSRH messages were shared
  • Number of articles on family planning/AYSRH in the media
  • Number and proportion of active champions
Cost
  • Training and orientation of champions
  • IEC materials
  • Follow-up meetings with the selected champions
  • Recognition of active champions, e.g., media awards ceremonies
Sustainability
  • Linking community champions with health management and administration teams
  • Inclusion of community volunteer champions as part of the workforce

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Related Approaches


Advocacy in Action


Other East Africa Program Areas