Advocates for epidemic prevention and response face a common obstacle: a lack of political will to allocate government funds for health systems strengthening. The most recent episode of the Global Health Advocacy Incubator’s (GHAI) Twitter Spaces Advocacy in Action series focused on the role that civil society advocates play in preventing, detecting and responding to infectious disease outbreaks.
On April 20, host Mena El-Turky led a conversation with panelists Carolyn Reynolds, co-founder of the Pandemic Action Network, Ann Danelski and Dr. Emmanuel Alhassan of GHAI, and Dr. Gafar Alawode, Member of the Board at Legislative Initiative for Sustainable Development (LISDEL). During the conversation, Carolyn Reynolds noted that the world often cycles between “crisis and complacency” but without sufficient and sustained investment, the root causes of epidemics and pandemics remain unresolved.
Ann Danelski, program lead for GHAI’s Prevent Epidemics, noted that “achieving robust, long-term support for epidemic preparedness and response requires locally led and sustained advocacy. An example of this is when the Nigeria Center for Disease Control was established, GHAI and our partners helped to identify funding pathways for the agency and to build public and political support for the funding increases. With that, NCDC gained support and funding for the new agency that has been ongoing since 2019 and has more than doubled to date.”
And the work does not end with achieving a line item. Dr. Alawode’s work with Nigeria-based LISDEL is focused not only on advocating for dedicated funding, but also for ensuring that funding is spent as intended. Improving accountability measures is necessary for, “the responsiveness of the political class, for effective utilization of resources, and to ensure that we get the result.” Government accountability is a key component of strengthening health systems for the long term, and it must be achieved through country-led and sustained advocacy.
Disease outbreaks will continue to happen, but local and global communities of advocates can work with governments at all levels to prevent them from becoming pandemics. Click here for more information on the Pandemic Action Network and GHAI’s Prevent Epidemics work in Nigeria.
This Twitter Spaces was part of our series where advocates share how they save lives through public health policy. Follow us on Twitter to learn more about upcoming Twitter Spaces.
Listen to the full recording and learn more about GHAI’s work: