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Introduction to Policy Engagement in Polio Eradication

In this lecture, Anna Kalbarczyk, explains the need to engage policymaking stakeholders across levels of government. (Step 3.2)
ANNA KALBARCZYK: Hi, everyone, and welcome to lecture 1 on Policy Engagement in the Polio Eradication Effort. I’m Dr. Anna Kalbarczyk, a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. And I’ll be with you throughout this lecture. High level political support and engagement in the polio eradication effort is essential to success. Consider a few different scenarios. In the remaining endemic countries, policy engagement is needed at both national and sub-national levels to ensure high quality and ongoing implementation of strategies. In countries that are polio free, political endorsement serves to improve routine immunization coverage, sustain high quality surveillance, achieve appropriate stocks of the vaccine, and ensure complete documentation for certification.
Given the length of time the polio program has been working, political leadership is also crucial in ensuring there is sufficient financing for a disappearing disease.
In planning, implementing and monitoring a program such as the GPEI, there is a need to engage diverse stakeholders and advocate at every level of government. It is not just about keeping the federal government engaged, but also having the provincial governments engaged as well. And here in this video, we’ll see an example from Pakistan. As you watch this video, think about what is meant by policy engagement. Who are some of the key stakeholders to include in the process, and what are some successful strategies? [VIDEO PLAYBACK]
Saturday, 11 o’clock in my office. - In Pakistan, Rotarian Aziz Memon has raised money and changed minds about polio eradication. The stakes are high, and the challenges many. For example, provincial governments are in charge of health, but they’re run by different political parties. - These political parties, they don’t get along with each other. But for polio, we need to request them– please, sit on one table, and let’s talk. - Aziz and his colleagues work to have all political parties agree to make polio eradication a part of their 2018 agenda. For the Rotarian and industrialist, strong personal relationships and remaining neutral have been critical.
For example, one particular party was not sending their Chief Minister to the Prime Minister Task Force Meeting. So I called the Chairman of that party, and I said, this meeting is for polio. You promised me. He came. - And the work has been dangerous as well. A few years ago, Taliban militants in one part of the country banned polio activities in exchange for an end to drone strikes. Aziz agreed to meet with the Taliban alone. - And I did not know that it would be such a risky thing. And I had to come there alone and without my cell phone, so it was scary, frightening.
I did not change their mind, but you know, I at least gave them the message that these children could be your own children. I have got just one agenda, and that is to take care of the children and finish polio. - Aziz says he’s committed until polio is gone for good. - Those days when my life was being threatened, at that time, it was always in my prayers that I should live until I’m done this. I will not stop. I will finish the disease.
ANNA KALBARCZYK: Throughout this lecture, we’ll cover a few key topic areas, including the importance of health policymaking and public health programs. We’ll consider policymaking theories and processes and also discuss the process of identifying and engaging stakeholders– something that is needed throughout the continuum of a health program. We will also describe power dynamics in policymaking and the importance of considering contextual factors. Each of these domains can describe key challenges and strategies for policy engagement, which you’ll see throughout this lecture. As we explore the importance of policy engagement, consider your own policy setting. Who are the stakeholders at every level that should be engaged? Why are they important? And what might be the best ways to actively and meaningfully engage them?

Anna Kalbarczyk, DrPH, MPH Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, USA

In the lecture, Dr. Kalbarczyk highlights the need to engage a diverse group of stakeholders in a global disease control program, as well as the importance of advocacy at every level of government.

Now, consider your own policy setting. If you are to implement a disease control program who do you think are key stakeholders to engage? Why are they important? What might the best ways to actively engage them?

Post your responses in the discussion section.

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Building Alliances in Global Health: From Global Institutions to Local Communities

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