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Cancer Control: Knowledge into Action: WHO Guide for Effective Programmes: Module 6: Policy and Advocacy. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2008.

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Cancer Control: Knowledge into Action: WHO Guide for Effective Programmes: Module 6: Policy and Advocacy.

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The main target audiences for advocacy work will usually be decision-makers and influencers:

  • Decision-makers are the primary audience. These are the individuals or groups who can take decisions in relation to cancer control policies and programmes. The primary audience may include the president, the prime minister, the cabinet, health or deputy health ministers, parliamentarians, funding agencies and community leaders.
  • Influencers are the secondary audience. These are the individuals or groups who have access to the decision-makers and who may be able to influence them. Influencers may become partners in the advocacy plan. The secondary audience typically includes cancer associations, cancer patients organizations, medical associations, cancer experts and other health-care professionals, faith-based groups, opinion leaders, the media, international leaders, entertainment and sports personalities, teachers, professors and researchers.

When drawing up a list of potential targets for advocacy, it is helpful to consider the current political climate and ask:

  • How important is cancer control to the general public? Is there adequate understanding of the term “comprehensive cancer control” and of the various components of comprehensive cancer control?
  • Does the government need to be convinced that there is a popular demand to give cancer control a higher priority?
  • Are there other influential municipal or national government departments – parks and recreation, education, environment, industry and innovation – who share the concerns of advocates for cancer control?
  • Do you need to convince other influential groups, such as professional and national medical associations or corporate leaders who have at-risk employees, of the value of cancer control?
  • What influence might the media have through the Internet, radio, television and print?
  • Does the private sector play an influential role in the issue of cancer control?

The process of selecting specific target audiences may be assisted by working through the following steps:

  • Firstly, for each objective in the advocacy plan define your target audience. To do this, you will need an adequate understanding of the decision-making system. Once the decision-making process is clear, it may become evident that a key target decision-maker is not directly accessible. In such cases, it may be necessary to work through others to reach the key decision-maker.
  • Secondly, for each target, identify individuals or groups (i.e. influencers) who can deliver the message to that target. The messenger needs to be a good communicator, eloquent, convincing and genuine. For example, in many settings, a prestigious oncologist is likely to have the greatest influence on a minister of health. On the other hand, a national economist who is able to argue convincingly for the economic benefits of comprehensive cancer control may be more effective in influencing a minister of finance. Pairing the medical or other professional with a cancer patient, survivor or family member who can effectively make the case for an urgent response, will bring the collective leverage of a personal, professional and policy perspective to the political front.
  • Thirdly, understand the target audience(s). Consider their motivation and interests, and the nature and format of information needed to persuade them. Note that targets may be either in favour of the change, undecided, or even opposed to it.

Table 2 provides an overview of the type of information about potential targets that needs to be collected when developing an advocacy plan.

Table 2. Example of advocacy target information.

Table 2

Example of advocacy target information.

Copyright © World Health Organization 2008.

All rights reserved. Publications of the World Health Organization can be obtained from WHO Press, World Health Organization, 20 Avenue Appia, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland (tel.: +41 22 791 3264; fax: +41 22 791 4857; e-mail: tni.ohw@sredrokoob). Requests for permission to reproduce or translate WHO publications – whether for sale or for noncommercial distribution – should be addressed to WHO Press, at the above address (fax: +41 22 791 4806; e-mail: tni.ohw@snoissimrep).

Bookshelf ID: NBK195430


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