GMMB and PATH Train Health Advocates in Zambia

GMMB and PATH Train Health Advocates in Zambia

They traveled from across Zambia to Chisamba, an hour away from the capital city of Lusaka, with passion and purpose. In the fight against some of the world’s most intractable diseases, these PATH Zambia advocates are entrusted with the job of building alliances with decision makers in order to seed, promote and support policies that will result in improved health services for Zambian women and children.

For these inspiring yet humble leaders—most of them women—their responsibilities are immense. Theirs are the voices that ensure that patients with HIV get the nutrition they need to thrive, that data about routine immunizations are collected and shared to ensure better decision-making, and that every family is protected from malaria. Simultaneously, they need to secure funding and impact policy to break the cycle and improve health. They realize that knowing how to tap into the media’s megaphone would greatly amplify all of their efforts, but even the most passionate advocate needs training and practice to be effective.

It was this challenge that inspired PATH, an organization that leads global health innovation in 20 countries to save lives and improve health, to ask GMMB to deliver a customized, two-day communications training course for 15 community advocates. In late August, Traci Siegel and I traveled to Zambia to work with these leaders, and help them become more effective health spokespeople in meetings, at a podium and on camera.

From project leads to technical advisors, the advocates came to the training with a range of communications experience. Our goal was to equip them with the tools they would need to tell their story in order to demonstrate the live-saving impact of their work and to secure vital funding.

On the first day of the training, their nervousness was palpable. But, on the second day, they came alive. In the mock interview sessions, where we pretended to be reporters and asked them questions about their work, their excitement and growing confidence shone. The feedback from the participants was overwhelming positive. Many cited their increased confidence and competence to develop and deliver messages for PATH’s key audiences.

Building upon the success of the training in Zambia, GMMB will partner to present a similar course in mid-November in Kenya. Traci and I could not be more excited for another opportunity to work with incredible community leaders for whom the cause of global health could not be closer to home. Kerry-Ann Hamilton is a vice president on the global health and education teams.