Monday 10th July 2017
What does WhatsApp have to do with advocacy for family planning budgets?
Inadequate funding means access to contraceptives and life-saving reproductive health products is limited in Sierra Leone. Lack of accurate data on use compounds this issue - impacting on the timely planning and distribution of essential supplies to communities.
Health for All Coalition (HFAC), an AmplifyChange Strengthening grantee, is taking an innovative approach to promoting government investment in reproductive health and family planning services, by using a WhatsApp group.
The HFAC WhatsApp group was set up as a simple, cost-effective means of reaching out to policy influencers and decision makers to advocate for increased visibility, availability and quality of family planning services.
The group are using WhatsApp to help promote their campaign, advocating for a separate line in the National Health Budget for the purchase and distribution of reproductive health products by March 2018.
HFAC project leader, Alhassan Bakarr Kamara, describes how the platform has proven particularly useful for supporting meaningful discussion and sharing updates with stakeholders:
“WhatsApp has been great for scaling our movement and intensifying connections between members and policy influencers
I’d recommend it to other advocates seeking to build momentum for Family Planning and SRHR advocacy”.
The group now has a diverse range of participants, from district health officers to civil society organisations and UN agency representatives.
With over 3000 posts, members share information on reproductive health and family planning, stock level and supply updates, calls to increase budget allocations and information on teenage pregnancy.
Sharing information and advocacy messages via the WhatsApp group has supported:
• Renewed commitments to access and availability of reproductive health services in Sierra Leone – demonstrated by its inclusion as a priority area in the Government’s 10-24 month post Ebola recovery plan
• Influenced districts councils to allocate budget lines for the distribution of reproductive health products to Primary Health Units. So far, 13 district Health Management Teams have been allocated a budget - a first for Sierra Leone
• Increased budget allocation for the purchase and distribution of Free Health Care drugs - 40% of the national health budget in 2017.
AmplifyChange is supporting the Health For All Coalition - Sierra Leone project with a Strengthening Grant from May 2016 – Apr 2018.
Thanks to Alhassan at HFAC.