Many countries have set bold goals to prevent and eliminate diseases and a new Task Force initiative seeks to foster collaboration so countries can reach those goals faster. The Health Campaign Effectiveness (HCE) Coalition is funded by an $8.2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“As the world addresses COVID-19 and many critical health services have been delayed or suspended, it’s absolutely essential that we find new ways to work together. We believe this coalition can provide that opportunity,” says Coalition Director Kristin Saarlas, ScD, MPH.
Public health campaigns have been used for decades as a successful strategy in efforts to eradicate polio, provide Vitamin A, deliver malaria bednets, and administer essential drugs to prevent and treat numerous tropical diseases. Nonetheless, campaigns can be costly, fail to meet their coverage targets, and have unintended consequences. When campaigns are not coordinated and lessons are not shared, they can inadvertently create challenges for countries that have limited resources and tools.
The Coalition aims to make campaigns more effective and equitable. “We would like to see them planned and delivered in conjunction with ongoing health services, reach all targeted populations, and achieve health systems objectives,” says Saarlas.
The Coalition will achieve this impact through the following approaches:
- Foster improved communication and collaboration among country leaders, donors and implementing groups.
- Support implementation research that will identify, test and scale up effective health campaign practices and tools.
- Advocate for policy alignment and collaboration on campaign funding and support.
The Coalition brings together stakeholders from across different health domains, including country leaders, donors, and representatives from global coordinating bodies and implementing groups. Together, they will share and advance knowledge on promising and evidence-based campaign practices and tools and promote adoption of campaign delivery models that can more effectively reach at-risk populations through close coordination with routine health services.
The Task Force has helped assemble and lead powerful coalitions for more than 30 years which have successfully carried out global campaigns to control or eliminate diseases such as neglected tropical diseases, influenza, and polio.
“Given our experience with global health campaigns and forging coalitions that collectively develop and achieve a common vision, I believe The Task Force is uniquely suited to help in this challenge,” said Patrick O’Carroll, MD, MPH, Head of The Task Force’s Health System Strengthening sector which includes the Coalition.
The Coalition will host its first meeting, virtually, in late October. One workgroup will address the challenges of suspended campaigns due to COVID-19 and explore opportunities for co-delivery and integrated approaches for when campaigns resume.
Learn About Designing the Coalition
Header photo: Community health workers pause for a break during lymphatic filariasis surveillance in Nepal. Photo courtesy of Marcus Perkins, GlaxoSmithKline.