This program builds the advocacy capacity of child and adolescent health providers through targeted workshops (in-person or virtual) and sustained technical assistance. Participants leave the workshop with a stronger understanding of how to effectively advocate for child and adolescent health priorities from their clinical settings to the national agenda.
Why is This Program Important?
Pediatricians and child health providers are uniquely positioned to advocate for the needs of children and adolescents given their topical expertise and direct engagement with children and families. They are often seen as an unbiased voice for children, independent from government and other decision-makers. Yet, pediatric providers often do not understand the possible weight of their influence beyond their immediate role as a child health provider. As trusted, credible professionals, child and adolescent health providers can collectively provide a platform for the unique needs of children, adolescents, and their families during local, national, regional, and global policy discussions. They can hold decision-makers accountable for ensuring children and adolescents are included in all health decisions from primary health care services to prevention of chronic diseases to supporting communities to understand the health decisions being made around them. For example, are tobacco control measures appropriately addressing secondhand smoke exposure in the home? Child and adolescent health providers, with the appropriate training and support, can effectively champion these issues and more. While many advocacy curricula and approaches to advocacy exist, this training package specifically targets pediatricians and other child health providers as advocates on a range of child health issues. Its stepwise approach begins by understanding the specific child health issue, defining the role of providers as advocates, and then providing realistic, practical strategies to effect change. The AAP model introduces basic advocacy skills (i.e., priority setting, stakeholder outreach, goals and objective) while also drawing on the champions’ existing pediatric training and experiences as providers to take action.
Who Can Benefit?
Typically, this program is for child and adolescent health providers of varying levels of experience. To support a mix of lecture, breakout groups, and town hall discussions, the AAP recommends workshops with 25-30 participants. Additionally, in some programs, AAP has included policy makers, program implementers, and young people in the trainings to build country-level teams of advocates. Future iterations can be tailored for medical students, young physicians, and civil society organizations which prioritize child health.
The AAP is experienced in building capacity and supporting policy and advocacy infrastructure for pediatric providers worldwide. The Advocacy Training for Child & Adolescent Health Providers can include up to three phases, each building off the preceding. Pediatric champions emerge ready to partner with governments and other stakeholders in advocating for and implementing policies to improve the health and well-being of newborns, children, and adolescents. The impact is powerful – through their efforts, pediatricians can move beyond treating one patient at a time to being part of a broader network that has the potential to systemically change the child health environment from national to regional to global levels. Over the past 10 years, the Academy has worked on developing regional and country-level advocacy trainings grounded in the AAP Advocacy Guide, which have addressed key child health priorities such as tobacco control, immunizations, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and early childhood development (coming soon). Through a more intensive focus in the last four years, the AAP has strengthened a model for building pediatric champions around immunizations. The core curriculum of the advocacy training addresses the role of pediatricians as champions across different levels – from the patient encounter to national policy advocacy. The trainings are highly interactive and have typically included a mix of presentations, small breakout sessions, case studies, and facilitated advocacy planning. Faculty include AAP advocacy champions, representatives from local pediatric societies, and other key stakeholders, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and civil society organizations.
Delivering Value and Impact
The potential impact of this advocacy training package is immense; namely, it could improve the profession of pediatrics by offering expert advocacy and capacity building skills to child and adolescent health providers globally. Supporting child health providers to speak a similar advocacy language (that is still culturally and geographically appropriate) strengthens the collective voice of child health advocates in all settings. As an example, through the AAP’s partnerships with national pediatric societies across Asia and Africa in rolling out the immunization advocacy package, immunization systems in 11 countries were strengthened through improved coordination across stakeholders and targeted advocacy to communities, immunization providers, and policymakers. In total, 200 pediatricians who were trained using the immunization package ultimately reached 3,500 health workers across all cadres of the immunization system, and over 2,500 community members, policy makers, and cultural leaders with stakeholder-specific immunization messages. The benefit of advocacy is that a simple intervention—a 3-day training on basic advocacy skills—has the potential to shift the mindset of a country’s most talented leaders and lead to long-lasting change. In Kenya, the local pediatric society supported the Ministry of Health to develop an updated immunization training package aimed at 85% of the health workforce to improve immunization service delivery and communication; in Indonesia the pediatric society successfully supported the Ministry of Health to spread messages of vaccine safety to rural areas leading to improved coverage for measles vaccine. The power of the Advocacy Training package lies in harnessing the passion and expertise of pediatric providers and channeling those to improve the lives of all children in their country.
Interested in the Program?
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American Academy of Pediatrics