On June 29, 2017, JLN country participants engaged in the second virtual learning exchange on Stakeholder Communications for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) ahead of an in-person Stakeholder Communications for UHC workshop in Accra, Ghana on July 21-22, 2017.
The learning exchange, a collaboration between USAID’s Health Financing and Governance Project (HFG) and the JLN, convened members from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya, Malaysia, Senegal and Sudan with the goal of sharing and co-producing pragmatic knowledge on effective communications for stakeholder engagement.
Defining Strategic Communications Priorities
Strategic communications that can inform, influence, or persuade key stakeholders in support of a national vision related to achieving UHC or improving upon a UHC agenda, emerged as a key challenge for technical reform during past conversations with JLN members.
This learning exchange aims to unpack the topic of strategic communications for countries working toward UHC and to tailor guidance based on individual country needs. To do so, the facilitators conducted key informant interviews with country delegations, led an initial virtual exchange back in April, and conducted a survey in June to validate country priorities.
The webinar began with a summary of survey findings, which demonstrated that member countries face communications challenges related to strategic purchasing, governance, and resource mobilization for UHC, and that countries are interested in obtaining guidance on design and decision-making for the development of strategic communications plans.
Virtual Learning Addresses Communications Priorities
To address these priorities, the facilitators conducted a literature review and expert consultations with communicators, policymakers, academics, researchers, and implementers. During the webinar, the facilitators shared an annotated bibliography and high-level findings from the literature and consultations, which was organized based on the three phases of communications planning: 1.) analysis of the UHC context and strategy, 2.) action planning, and 3.) implementation and assessment.
Among the tools and resources identified for strategic communications, the Smart Chart 3.0 was selected as one tool for in-depth review and application by participating countries. The Smart Chart 3.0 is a tool developed by the Washington, D.C.-based communications firm Spitfire Strategies to help nonprofit organizations make strategic decisions for communications planning. During the virtual learning exchange, the first three steps of this tool were presented.
The learning exchange offered the opportunity for participants to ask questions and develop their knowledge of stakeholder communications in the context of their country’s specific environment. Questions centered on political economy analysis, stakeholder analysis and targeting, and opposition messaging. These themes will take the spotlight in the following weeks as the countries prepare for the in-person Ghana workshop.
Next Steps for the Strategic Communications Collaborative
The purpose of the upcoming workshop is to convene countries to co-develop a comprehensive practical guide to stakeholder communications for UHC and to begin outlining individual country communications plans. In advance of the workshop in Accra, participating country delegations will complete the first three steps of the Smart Chart 3.0 based on their individual country priorities. When the delegations meet in Accra on July 20-21, they will have an opportunity to learn from other country delegations and focus their learning on communications theory and practice.