By Iyemah David
The West African Health Organization (WAHO), has called on member states to engage the media to help address some of the issues on the need to strengthen Health Policy and Systems (HPS).
The HPS is designed to improve the wellbeing of women, newborns, children and adolescent.
Prof. Issiaka Sombie, Professional Research Officer, WAHO, made the call in an interview on Wednesday in Accra, on the sidelines of the High-level Meeting with vaccines Manufacturers in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Sombie said that Journalists need capacity building in reporting on health and specifically, on issues related to Women, newborns, children and adolescents’ wellbeing (WNCAW).
He said this would include sensitive and controversial issues such as abortion.
Sombie said this would enable the region to pilot interventions to strengthen capacity, evidence generation, synthesis, communication to catalyse leadership towards informing approaches for strengthening health systems and other interventions to improve WNCAW in the sub-region over the preceding three years.
He said: “Formation and capacity strengthening of multi-professional communities of practice involving health system policy makers, providers, researchers, media practitioners, and civil society organizations are to work together to strengthen health systems.”
“Training of media practitioners in reporting on health in general and WNCAW in particular and engaging communities to understand their perspectives using score cards assessment processes, and linking communities, policy makers and providers should jointly address issues and concerns,” he explained.
He said that WAHO has recommended communities where this could be practiced to advocate and lead change in the region.
It will also “Encourage and support the organizations of multi-professional, multi-disciplinary, multi-level (national and sub-national) Communities of Practice to generate evidence and advocate for Health Policy and Systems strengthening to improve WNCAW.
According to Sombie; “The leadership of the Communities of Practice should be at the country level. The participants in this room from each country, including the WAHO focal persons from the Ministries of Health in each of the 15 countries of the ECOWAS, should take the initiative for leadership in their countries.
He said: “They should engage researchers, media practitioners and civil society organizations with interest in HPS, WNCAW, development and change leadership. This will require identification and engagement of research groups working on HPS and WNCAW; research in ministries of health, health services and academia, Media practitioners who report on health, Civil Society Organizations engaged in HPS and WNCAW.”
He said that researchers who were part of the Communities of Practice teams need capacity building to conduct and provide evidence from desk reviews and rapid evidence synthesis to inform decision making and present findings in ways that are accessible to non-academic audiences such as information and advocacy policy.
He further explained that building the capacity in and supporting the Communities of Practice will help to engage multi-level, multi-sectoral decision makers in policy dialogues about the issues and the search for solutions.
“District managers and frontline providers need capacity building on conduct and use of simple Community Score Cards in a continuous quality improvement process,” he said.
Sombie recommended support at country level to enable capacity building and support at district level for district health managers and frontline health facility managers to conduct and use simple score cards assessment as part of continuous quality improvement of the quality and responsiveness of their services.
“This includes adapting or developing and sharing simple user-friendly toolkits and guidance notes,” he said.