ACTION’s newest media champions, trained in Nairobi last week, are buoyed and ready to get started with their work as advocates for child health in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. Now in its 12th year, the media champion program is one of ACTION’s signature offerings to help advocates sharpen their skills and amplify the voices in support of our mission: to influence policy and mobilize resources to fight diseases of poverty and achieve equitable access to health.
Among this year’s eight participants, which include three pediatricians and a former senator and polio survivor, praise was effusive for the four-day workshop. They learned about advocacy, public speaking, and media relations as well as “healthy start” issues such as immunization and transition from Gavi funding and why low- and middle-income countries should care.
“This training has opened my eyes to some of the funding challenges that are likely to draw down the gains we have achieved over the past years in reducing child mortality, and now I am able to target a variety of audiences at various levels,” one champion wrote in the feedback, which was submitted anonymously.
“This was a great way to allow synthesis of all child health-related issues and merge them into a single message. So specific, yet so comprehensive,” wrote another champion.
Toyyib Abdulkareem, a Nigerian health advocate currently on a Commonwealth Scholarship at the University of Wolverhampton, voiced his thoughts on the training on social media. “The training will go a long way to sharpen our advocacy skills,” he said. “It was also inspiring to listen to the different stories and strategies.”
In addition to Abdulkareem, the Champions for Change are an impressive set:
- Dr. Amina Maria Kabwau, a physician and UNICEF consultant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
- Edhina Chiwawa, country technical coordinator for Malaria Consortium in South Sudan;
- Fatuma Yussuf Abdullah, a polio survivor and immunization advocate from Kenya;
- Harold Kipchumba, a former senator and polio survivor from Kenya;
- Julius Korsuk Busiri, project coordinator for Amref Health Africa from South Sudan;
- Dr. Patrick M. Mburugu, head of the department of child health and pediatrics at Jomo Kenyatta University, Kenya; and
- Dr. Patience Obiagwu, chairperson of the Expanded Civil Society on Immunization Steering Committee in Nigeria.
Grace Virtue, Ph.D., is senior communications advisor at the ACTION Secretariat.