Purpose of advocacy
The main purpose of advocacy is to bring about positive changes to the health of your population. Sometimes advocacy will address health issues through the implementation of a national health policy, or through the implementation of public health policy — and it can also address health issues related to harmful traditional practices. Moreover, advocacy could help to meet the goals of health extension programme policies, where specific resource allocation and service delivery models are formulated for advocacy campaigns.
Advocacy is about helping you to speak up for your community; to make sure that the views, needs and opinions of your community are heard and understood. It should always be an enabling process through which you, as a Health Extension Practitioner, together with individuals, model families and others in your community — take some action in order to assist the community to address their health needs. Advocacy is person-centred and people-driven. It is always community-rights based. That is to say that advocacy is dealing with what your community needs to improve its health. You could also say that advocacy is the process of supporting people to solve health issues. It includes single issues and time-limited campaigns, as well as ongoing, long-term work undertaken to tackle a range of health issues or health problems.
Remember, advocacy is your opportunity to influence polices or programmes of health. It also means putting important health problems on the agenda. Advocacy may be able to provide a solution to specific health problems, and build support and networks that can tackle health issues that are affecting the health of your community (Figure 17.2).
Look at the words and phrases below, and underline the ones which you think have a connection with the idea of advocacy. Read the first section of this study session again to help remind you what advocacy is.
- speaking up for others
- supporting people
- solving issues
- an enabling process
- using well-organised activities to influence decision makers
- building alliances.
We hope you underlined everything — because advocacy is all the things above.
'Speaking up' operates both at an individual level, with organisations and at governmental level. It has the potential to be extremely influential in your health education work.