Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) constitute two-thirds of the global burden of disease, however, they attract 1-2% of global health financing while tuberculosis, malaria, maternal/child care and HIV/AIDS attract 90%. This is according to a report by World Health Organisation global coordination mechanism on NCDs.
With these alarming statistics in mind, a two days stakeholder collaboration event organized by Access Accelerated and its partners was held on 21st and 22nd of March 2018 at Crowne Plaza Hotel. The event had the overall objective to accelerate progress on prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), and explore strategies for mainstreaming the NCD agenda into Kenya’s broader plans towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Could the poor funding be an indication that NCD advocacy is going about it all wrong? This was a key discussion in building solutions to patients’ challenges with NCDs. In a discussion that engaged representatives of the global community, the county government, Ministry of Health, various non-governmental organizations, health practitioners, caregivers and people living with NCDs (PLWNCDs), Pauline Irungu of Policy and Advocacy gave a presentation on the chief components of advocacy. Together with Eva Njenga and Mary of NCD Alliance, they facilitated an animated discussion on advocacy.
Inclusion is one of the components of advocacy and especially of PLWNCDs. Anything done for them without them is against them. They have lived experiences which cannot be gotten from anyone else. Transformative change is the goal of advocacy. It should bring a change of situations, attitudes, policies, systems and the general way of doing things to promote a holistic healthy future.
Communication is at the core of advocacy. “Images speak loudly and print themselves permanently in our memories. This was the epitome of HIV/AIDs advocacy and it worked greatly”. The mainstream media, social media, print, videos, posters, adverts and word of mouth are powerful channels and NCDs advocates should be vigilant to seize publicity opportunities. This also calls for maximum utilization of national and county assemblies. Accountability is vital in that it promotes transparency and responsibility in handling as well as an equal sharing of resources. It also involves investing in top priorities such as research and data presentation.
Advocacy on preventive measures was emphasized by the participants. Advocacy should cease from being the multiplication of hospitals, wards, drugs, machines and others and focus on nutrition, exercises and stress management. “We need to close the tap otherwise we will forever be mopping the floor”, said Pauline. Including NCDs campaigns from primary school curriculum onwards was agreed upon as crucial in preventive advocacy. Her Excellency Elizabeth Maiyani the first Lady of Nakuru brought up the need to demystify myths and misinformation on NCDs as part of prevention.
Dr. Joseph Kibachio the head of NCDs in the ministry of health summarized the advocacy discussions by saying, “We need to package survivors with speech delivery techniques, empower them with the right information, suggest to them the significant questions to ask, enlighten them on how the government works and secure for them a platform in the parliament”.