With sound evidence and research at their core, advocacy and fundraising organisations have an important role to play in the health system partnership.
Such organisations provide opportunities for understanding and sharing information widely and across a range of complex and relevant areas. They can act as the voice of the people and can address cultural, economic, environmental, societal or material issues which, globally, are preventing ‘good health’.
‘Operation Health’, for example, is the current Comic Relief health project, for Red Nose Day (UK) and is an example of a health system partnership, where the charity is working directly with a clinic in Eastern Uganda, updating and renovating its facility. As fundraising for the project begins across the UK and beyond, the local team is simultaneously rebuilding what was an out-dated, unstable building. The project aims to ensure a fully functioning, sustainable healthcare facility is made available, with running water, solar power, a stable structure and equipment that means people can be treated safely. Over 9 weeks of synchronised fundraising and building works, with community and staff engagement, the facility will be transformed. The 20,000 local people will receive effective treatment and support to improve their health, close to their homes and within the community setting. Longer term, such provisions can empower people to manage their health more effectively.
The American organization, The Breast Cancer Fund, is an example of an advocacy organisation who aim to input to the health system partnership by increase public awareness about the health risks of chemicals and translates scientific evidence into public education. The organisation work to eliminate people’s exposure to toxic chemicals linked to breast cancer. The fund runs the following campaigns;
- ‘Cans Not Cancer Campaign’, aims to get Bisphenol A (BPA) out of food cans;
- ‘The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’, works to increase the awareness of the dangerous impacts of toxic substances and chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products, advocating for better laws to protect public health (this campaign is a coalition of women’s, public health, labor, environmental health, and consumer rights organizations, all providing valuable input into the health system partnerships);
- The ‘Ensuring Non-Toxic Toys’, is an advocating campaign that helps ban phthalates from toys; and
- ‘Revealing What’s In Cleaning Products’ promotes legislative transparency of the ingredients in cleaning products.
The Breast Cancer Fund is also promoting a nationally coordinated system, which would help the understanding of links between diseases and pollution in the environment. They are advocating for resources for “biomonitoring”. This is a tool that public health professionals could use to measure people’s exposure to toxic chemicals and their impact on health.
Another example of an advocacy member, in the Indian health system partnership, is The Helping Hand Foundation, an NGO designed to combat an identified lack of vitamin D in the Indian population. The Foundation offers information on;
- Safe sun exposure;
- Vitamin D supplements;
- The benefits of vitamin D; and
- The health hazards due deficiency.
The Foundation kick-started a 12-day awareness campaign and in collaboration with Elbit Diagnostics (a diagnostic center in Hyderabad), is striving to make otherwise expensive Vitamin D Serum tests more affordable. The campaign highlighted and communicated that sufficient levels of vitamin D can help in not only combating but preventing several chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, arthritis, and asthma. It also highlighted improved pregnancy outcome and prevention of autism, depression and insomnia. Vitamin D was also promoted as being a critical factor in the mitigation of age-related dementia.
Such organisations, whether fundraising for health, or advocating healthier standards, play a role in health system partnership by empowering people and delivering integrated, effective, relevant initiatives for the health of the population.
Around the world, there are good examples of how inclusive health system partnerships can connect and align the journey of participants, utilising skills and driving input towards the sustainable healthcare journey.