The Immunization Advocacy Initiative is a consortium project implemented by three organizations in Ghana namely; Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health, SEND Ghana, HFFG Consortium.
Quarterly consortium meetings are held to update each consortium member on progresses made and also to discuss the way forward for a successful implementation of the project.
The meeting held on the 30th July begun with an introductory note from Ms. Juliet Amoah a focal personnel for APHRC. She started with an update on the role played and progress made by the Kenya and Cote D’Ivoire and said the Kenyan partners have been recognized in the ministry of health with regards to Immunization Financing and policy grounds that aligns with the immunization agenda 2030. The ministry of health in Kenya has also been trying to find ways of introducing HPVSIAs and so they have set up a subcommittee of the technical working group to research on the most effective ways of reaching children who for different reasons cannot or have not been accessing health facilities. The Kenyans consortium also went through a budget training and analysis for four days which was delivered in June just as SEND Ghana did for the Ghanaian for the Consortium. She highlighted what had been done in terms of partner engagement and said Kenya has looked about getting 50 champions, they targeted director generals and all key people in the health ministry. They also ensured adoption and finalization of SOPs they can roll out in all 47 county’s in Kenya. She spoke of Cote D’Ivoire and said they worked primarily on debunking false information on vaccination.
She finally encouraged consortium members to seamlessly weave together for various interventions and be confident in what we do and get our story telling right.
The Vice Chairman for GCNH Mr. Bright chaired the meeting and gave the purpose of the meeting after Ms. Juliet had given the introductory address. He stated the Purpose of the meeting to be Information Sharing and Progress among various Consortium members, the need to collaborate more for effectiveness by consortium members and finally next step activities.
Oswald from GCNH gave the first presentation, his presentation was centered on the following:
Goals and Expected Outcome.
To increase domestic financing for immunization in Ghana was stated as the goal for the IAI project. He also stated the expected outcome which are sustained annual financing for immunization in the GoG National Budget and increased disbursement of the proportion of the budget allocated to immunization by GoG.
GCNH members participated in a budget tracking workshop organised by Send Ghana. There was also a participation in stake holder’s forum and advocacy workshop organized by APHRC.
Activities Implemented (January 2020 to date).
The GCNH team were able to implement some activities which are the celebration of the World Immunization Week, Participating in the online training on Outcome Harvesting, also the implementation of Media Engagement and joint press release by Ghana IAI Consortium. Lastly, Step down training for community level NGOs on Policy review and brief writing.
Activities for Ensuing Quarter.
Outstanding activities for the remaining quarters was also touched upon. Third and fourth quarter consortium meeting, technical meeting with key immunization actors and partners, national immunization financing forum and
finally Coordination of documentation of Most Significant Change stories compendium and videos.
Oswald concluded by stating the success story of the GCNH which was a meeting with the National Chief Imam who promised to help champion the course by speaking on immunization issues and the need to make its finance sustained.
The next presentation was given by Mrs. Gladys Damalin from HFFG. She categorized the presentation under three main topics which are:
Activities Carried Out.
With same Goals and Expected Outcome for all three consortium members she went on to speak about activities carried out by HFFG. Holding of immunization week from of April 25 to May 1st 2020 was her first stated activity, followed by organization of International day of the Midwife on 5th May 2020, presentation of proposal to four political parties in Ghana on the need to include immunization financing in their manifesto. Also published a newsletter on IAI in this quarter, Engagement meeting with traditional authorities at the regional level and also engaged in the Outcome Harvest training by APHRC among other activities.
Out of the activities carried out there were success stories like the holding of immunization week and international day of the Midwife. Engagement meeting with traditional authorities at the regional level and publishing newsletters on IAI were also success stories.
HFFG has planned out activities like holding engagement meeting with Parliamentary Select Committee on health, follow up with APHRC on draft policy brief, finalize documentary on Immunization Financing and also Engagement with Local Government which is to happen within this quarter.
The final presentation was given by Anita Asare Awuku of SEND Ghana. She started by stating all the districts in the four regions Send Ghana works in and sectioned her presentation under the following headings.
Production of Knowledge Products. In order to influence Immunization financing Ms. Anita stated the Send Ghana team had to look into the budget so they submitted inputs into political manifestos of political parties and they did this together with HFFG. They also submitted inputs into 2021 budgets and four of those inputs went to the ministry of health, other inputs were also put into District Annual Action Plan and again four inputs were put into the Greater Accra Action Plan.
Production of Communication Pieces. This second activity by Send Ghana, involved the issuing of press statement during the Immunization Week Celebration which had 782 viewing and on Facebook it also had 623 people viewing. Engagement with a number of media houses such as Joy News, GhOne TV, GBC Radio, Star Fm and 123FM, these media houses basically communicated the need for Immunization Financing and also spoke about the rational for the Immunization Week. There was also the production of 4 puller banners, production of 3500 stickers, and production of brochures on the project which was distributed among the IAI consortium members. The production of one opinion piece on COVID 19 and its effects on the Child Welfare Clinic. Lastly engagement of Disease Control Officers of various districts during this COVID period and they mentioned there was a low coverage on immunization.
Engage at National, Regional and District Level. A meeting with the NDPCwas heldto communicate gaps identified with Immunization Financing. There was an involvement of champions who also held sensitization on TV and Radio to draw attention on the need to visit CWCs during these pandemic times and also to draw government attention on the need to allocate resources to Immunization Financing. Engagement with media agencies was also another activity held and during this the goal and outcome of the product was shared and their buy insss were solicited. Some media agencies committed to publicize information on Immunization Financing whiles others also stated they were doing field works to bring out evidence to support the advocacy.
Partners Capacity Building. Partners Stake Holders Conference, Annual Planning and Review meeting organized by APRCH, participation in Outcome Harvesting Training, Training immunization Champions on advocacy so they can pick up discussion at the grass root level, provision of technical backstopping to HFFG and GCNH in the regional budget forum and training on community score cards. Again training of same consortium members on budget analysis held in Koforidua. Finally, quarterly planning meetings with CSOs, religious and traditional authorities as well as their Send Ghana Champions and DHMT reps. She stated this was held in January and participants brought out some ideas which fed into their work plan for the year.
Meeting with the NDPC was stated as their achievement because the NDPC indicated there would ensure the guidelines for development of the medium term development plan have the MDAs and MMDAs allocated funds for immunization. They also promised to invite members from the Send Ghana team to review the guidelines so they can still make inputs where they feel issues of immunization hasn’t been well highlighted. The Deputy Director also through his statement made also gave assurance.
There are a number of outstanding activities for Send Ghana. The appraisal of political party manifestos to access whether their inputs have been taken on board is the first of them, followed by participating in review meetings which would help consortium members share ideas and experiences and also resolve challenges. The production of an audio visual of shorts messages from key personnel’s on Immunization Funding, engagement of National house of Chiefs on Immunization Financing and lastly National, Regional and District dialogues on Immunization Financing.
Ms. Anita said engaging key stakeholders like NDPC has proved to very effective because they have given assurance that they would make sure the guidelines for development of the medium term development plans have something on immunization. She also said they would still press on for more engagement with the evidence they have to ensure Immunization Financing is also prioritized even though COVID 19 has taken up space.
COMMON ACTIVITIES FOR CONSORTIUM MEMBERS
Consortium members agreed that for a successful implementation of the IAI project they all had to work together as a team and therefore listed the activities below as activities they would do together.
All three consortium members Send Ghana, HFFG and GCNH identified the COVID 19 Pandemic to be a major challenge which affected the implementation of most activities. Examples such as difficulty in getting government officials to support in activities due to the pandemic and also most funds going towards the mitigation of COVID were given.
After all three presentations were made, questions that came up suggested more collaborative works from the consortium members which all members agreed upon, this would help achieve the goal and expected outcome of the IAI project.