Parliaments, health and budget Civil Society Organisations(CSOs), ministries of Finance and Health and the media have been called to be equipped with the necessary skills to help them package and lobby well for budgetary allocations for health programmes.
?For effective budget advocacy, actors seeking to impact and change health budgets need a good understanding of the policy instrument behind a budget, the budgetary processes and how to monitor financing for health to hold governments accountable?.
Dr David Okello, Zimbabwean World Health Organinsation Country Representative made the call when he opened a five-day training workshop on ?Accountability Loop Budget Advocacy?, here in Harare.
The workshop, orgnaised by the Harmonisation for Health in Africa under the auspices of the WHO, Africa Regional Office for parliamentarians and health and budget committee staff, health and budget CSO alliance representatives, media, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health from Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The training is to build stronger health budget advocacy based on existing strong health/Maternal and Newborn Care Health coalition of CSOs involved in advocating for better health budgets and on available health expenditure data and focal points.
Participants will for the five days be taken through health sector planning and budgeting processes, country group sessions, analyse whether priorities are fully transferring from one step to another, from the strategic plan, to its costing, to government budget, to government expenditures, and finally back to results.
Country groups will also review their national documents to analyse how priorities translate into budgets and expenditures through the preparatory work for budget advocacy and prepare country advocacy strategic plan.
Dr Kello noted that in order to realize the full potential of national accountability platforms, countries needed a vibrant constituency who are able to understand and utilize financial data to influence appropriate policy change.
?You therefore need to talk to each other to know the essence of allocating and approval of more money and resources to improve the health needs of the people?.
Dr Alice Ntamishiamaro Sormare in charge of HHA explained that there was an increasing acknowledgment of the potential impact of effective health budget advocacy and growing demand for relevant training to build greater national capacity for effective budget advocacy, including among CSOs, parliamentarians and the media, hence the training, which she said was the third in series.
Dr Sormare noted that health planning and budgeting were critical components of policy development and implementation to analyse health budgets in relation to costed plans and expenditures to enable civil society, parliamentarians and the media hold policy implementers accountable for promises made.
?Unfortunately, stakeholders often have limited capacity to engage in budget processes?, she added.
The training she said was in the context of implementation of the Tunis Declaration, two recent accountability loop budget advocacy workshops were held in Nairobi in 2013 and in Daker, 2014, which proved very popular and very successful.
She explained that the workshop will among others strengthen the capacity of civil society, parliamentarians and the media, to be confident to initiate and implement health budget advocacy in-country working through existing networks and platforms related to health advocacy.
Encourage collaboration by bringing together key stakeholders parliamentarians and their health and budget committee staff, health and budget CSO alliance representatives, media, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health staff.
Facilitate the development of a draft advocacy work plan, which upon finalization and validation, each country team will then apply to receive seed money to implement their advocacy plan.