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What is advocacy?

Why advocacy has a role to play in any eye care initiative.

Advocacy has a role to play in any eye care initiative. It can help individuals or organisations to obtain more resources, and it can support programme implementation and service delivery.

When planning an advocacy strategy aimed at improving eye care delivery, it is important to identify key groups of stakeholders who are in a position to make a difference. These are the targets for advocacy – the people at whom you need to direct your efforts. They can make important decisions that directly affect service delivery or simply influence others in a way that will improve the situation.

If these key target groups can see the benefits of what is being advocated, it will be easier to both get their support and ensure that this support is sustained. Hence, it is important that the design of an intervention or programme should offer benefits to all – it should be a ‘win-win’ solution. Those who are advocating for better delivery of eye health services (whether they are eye health providers, hospital managers, or national coordinators) should therefore clearly communicate these benefits – supported by the relevant evidence – to the groups that are the targets for their advocacy.

Advocacy target groups for ROP services include:

  • Political leaders.
  • Community leaders.
  • Local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in child health and eye health
  • Health care professionals – neonatologists, ophthalmologists, heads of professional bodies, heads of training programmes for nurses, ophthalmologists.
  • Low vision and rehabilitation experts
  • Parents of children with ROP.

In the video on this step, Dr Jiba Abbiyesuku, Jos University Teaching Hospital, Nigeria and Professor Detlef Prozesky, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, discuss the principles of advocacy for health services and how these can be applied to ROP services.

As you listen to their conversation consider how to apply the eight steps of advocacy in your setting. Share your ideas and experiences in the Comments.

The eight steps of advocacy

  1. Building coalitions
  2. Networking
  3. Lobbying
  4. Negotiations
  5. Making a clear position statement
  6. Community mobilisation
  7. Use media
  8. Across all steps use key information and evidence to advocate.
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