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july 2011 health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit


Health Worker Breakthrough Campaign Toolkit


contents 3 Introduction to toolkit 4 More health workers, better supported 7 Our objectives 8 Choose your targets 9 2011 key moments 12 Lobbying tactics 16 Mobilisation tactics 22 Beyond September

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit

introduction to toolkit Welcome to your Health Worker Breakthrough Campaign Toolkit. This toolkit will provide you with a timeline of opportunities, and ideas, tools and tactics for advocacy and campaigning activity. It will show how to further mobilise the public and political targets to make commitments to health workers and help save children’s lives.

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit

Leticia Valverdes

Most importantly the toolkit will provide you with links to online materials to help with your lobbying such as example petitions, example letters to country leaders and press releases.


the world needs more health workers better supported Why health workers?

Find out more

Why September?

Health workers are critical to saving lives: they are the single most important element of any health service. Without them, no vaccine can be administered, no life-saving drugs prescribed, no family planning advice provided and no woman can be given expert care during childbirth. Without health workers conditions like pneumonia and diarrhoea – which can be treated easily by someone with the right skills, supplies and equipment – become deadly.

The shortage of health workers is a critical factor in the numbers of children that die every year – and a major barrier to the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 4.

In September around the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, countries will meet to assess progress on women’s and children’s health and discuss ways forward. A growing number of NGOs, together with several UN bodies, are working together to make this a crunch moment – an opportunity for a major political breakthrough on health workers, a moment at which the health worker crisis is addressed by developing and donor countries on 20 September a number of organisations are coming together to organise an informal but high-level political event to provide a platform for world leaders to set out their commitments to increase the number of health workers in their own countries and ensure resources and support for new and existing health workers. We want key donor and developing countries to see September as a moment for a step-change involving substantial and specific commitments to expand the number of health workers and give them the support they need.

Health workers are vital for: progress on maternal and child survival. Ensuring that a health worker is within reach, and is trained, equipped and supported, is crucial to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5. Health workers are also vital for addressing MDG 6, non-communicable diseases, and other important health and development issues.


Number of under-five

deaths in 2009

India Nigeria DRC Paskistan China

1,726,000 794,000 558,000 460,000 347,000


Under-five mortality rate (per 1000 live births)

Chad DRC Afghanistan Guinea-Bissau Sierra Leonne

209 199 199 193 192

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit


who’s behind this? In late May 2011, 50 organisations issued an urgent call for more health workers, better supported. Since then hundreds more organisations have add their voice to the call:

As the UN secretary general has noted, the world is suffering from a massive gap of more than 3.5 million health workers. This includes a pressing need for at least 1 million community health workers and 350,000 midwives. Millions more existing health workers lack the support, equipment and training they need.

Health workers are vital for progress on global health and development, and for ensuring the millennium development goals are met. Bold leadership is needed. World leaders each need to make new, substantial and specific commitments to expand the number of health workers and better support those workers who are already in place. To motivate this kind of bold leadership will require a powerful coalition with strong public support. For this reason, a diverse range of organisations are issuing today this urgent call for more health workers, better supported. We share a vision where there is a health worker within reach of everyone, in every community. Since then hundreds more organisations have add their voice to the call, coming together under the banner ‘Health Workers Count’. Go to to find out who.

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit


Health workers are the backbone of healthcare. Properly trained and equipped, they can prevent most child and maternal deaths. Without them, millions of mothers and children have no one to diagnose illnesses, dispense treatment, assist at births or provide immunisation.

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit

Pep Bonet/Noor

But the world is short of health workers and millions of them lack the power, training, equipment and medical supplies to deliver basic health services.


our objectives In the run up to September, we want to work, together with partners, to build up momentum at national and global levels.

Our shared objectives are:

peter caton

• to motivate governments and others (including multilaterals and the private sector) to make new, specific and substantial commitments to “more health workers, better supported” in the run up to or during the September 2011 UNGA meetings. • To strengthen and demonstrate broad public and political support for “more health workers, better supported” – both to help with the first objective and to help ensure commitments are followed through. • 3.5 million public actions from around the world, aggregated in support of the issue.

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit


choose your targets To secure a health worker breakthrough we need champions, commitment and support from a wide range of people. We need commitments from high-level leaders and decision-makers but we also want the support and involvement of huge numbers of people. Some of your targets will be high-level decisionmakers, but involvement and support from civic society and health workers is also crucial – they can provide strong support, add their voices to the call for more health workers – they will help to make leaders listen.

Who should you target? Targets are the key individuals who are in a position to bring about the change you want. Influentials are those with some influence over your target, who can use this influence for or against your case. These may include: • Ministry of Health / Ministry of Finance • Local government budget holders • Local politicians who can campaign for life-saving improvements for their constituents. They may also help. They may also help to reach national politicians and ministers. • Media Stakeholders are everybody who can affect or who will be affected by the change you seek. These may include: • Organisations of health professionals, including midwives • Children’s and women’s organisations • Health workers and groups of health workers

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit


2011 key moments Timeline of potential opportunities in the build-up to 20 September


11 august

20 September: Why is this the moment?

What can we do in the build up to September?

In addition to influencing the agenda of the formal session on women and children’s health, NGOs, with the support of the UN, will organise an informal but high-powered event, on 20 September, as a platform for champion leaders to set out their commitments to expand the health workforce.

There are potential opportunities for campaigning and advocacy in the build-up to September, at the time of the UN General Assembly, to help ensure a breakthrough on health workers.

1 september

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit

20 september

In the first stage up to August: We will work to ensure that leaders in our key countries feel the pressure to make a commitment on health workers at the September event.Through our lobbying, popular mobilisation, and media, we want Heads of States to be seeing and hearing about health workers everywhere they turn. We want to create an environment in which leaders feel compelled to attend the side-event in New York and be prepared to make an ambitious and bold commitment to training, deploying and funding health workers at that forum. In the second stage up to September 20:  We want to be reinforcing and reassuring leaders who have agreed to attend our event in New York, and to make commitments on health workers – and we want to be ramping up the pressure for leaders who have not. Through high-level global advocacy, global popular mobilisation and in the global media, we want to create an atmosphere of increasing inevitability, that heads of State feel an obligation, a duty, to attend the event in New York and make substantial commitments on health workers.


10 things to do in the build up to the health worker crunch moment



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health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit

20 july: 2 months to go Join the global stunt with a giant sticking plaster. The global icon for Health Workers

Count is the sticking plaster. We can provide you with a giant plaster to hold up or attach in front of a political building or landmark. Encourage others to take action on Both

individuals and organisations can sign up online. You could also embed the sign up tool in your own website or send a letter to organisations you want to see come behind the health worker call. Go to page 15.

3 4 5

Engage your advocacy targets. Work with partner organisations coming behind the health worker call – you could send letter or arrange a meeting with health worker advocacy targets. Go to page 11. Make a noise. Pitch to media or use social

media to spread the word. Go to page 18 and 19. Share your stories. You can share your health

worker stories, photos, videos and news on Go to page 15.






11 August: 40 days to go. 3.5 million seconds to September moment Pitch to the media and renew push for public action and opportunity to communicate to the media. Go to page


18 and 19.


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0 2 1


day of action 1 september: 20 days to go countdown Take part in the one global action –

for example taking part in a plaster stunt and holding popular events. Go to page 16 and 17.

worker event 10 Health and stunt in New York

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit


Take part in global activity, communicate to media and supporters and keep your eyes on your leader at the September meeting!

1-20 september 20 day countdown

8 9

Set up or take part in national events

– for example a national health tribunal or national ‘send off’ event. Go to page 13 and 14. Push your messaging in social media and

media – more ideas and materials will follow. Go to page 18 and 19.

There may be other moments and opportunities in your own country that you know would be a good time to lobby for more health workers, such as World Breast Feeding week.


LOBBYING TACTICS How do you reach your targets? In the run-up to the September meeting, it’s really important that we lobby governments to encourage them to see September as a moment to stretch ambition and show global leadership – in particular by making new, substantial and specific commitments to expand the number of health workers and better support those workers who are already in place. Below are some ideas, tools and tactics on how you might be able to reach your targets.You should be realistic, pragmatic and strategic – only choose what’s appropriate in your context.

1. Secure partner support and work in coalitions It’s important to work with partner organisations and to form coalitions so that there are more voices behind the campaign for a health worker breakthrough. Many voices strengthen our call and are harder for decision makers to ignore! You can see the organisations that are signed up to our urgent call for more health workers, better supported and encourage organisations to join at Think about organisations in your country that might be interested, or that would be useful to bring on board.You could encourage organisations to sign up by giving examples of other organisations and the number of organisations that have signed up. You could also think about the working with specific partners or organisations in some of your activities.

Download an advocacy guide

Download a coalition guide

2. Send a letter Sending a letter can be the first step to getting the attention of leaders and other politicians –.You can set out the goals of our campaign and you can stress the urgency of it.You could include an example of the work of health workers and link this to popular activity, for example send them a sticking plaster. Tell them about the September crunch moment. Ask them questions. Be brief, but set out the fact clearly and say what we hope to achieve. Think about tying sending a letter to a key moment, they may agree to meet with you or attend an event. In partnership with others – and well in advance of the UNGA – write to, or try to meet with, your Head of State or the Minister of Health. • Outline what you would like to see from your government in terms of further commitments and implementation of commitments around health workers • Encourage your Head of State to use the opportunity of the UNGA to make the commitment to health workers. Download a template advocacy letter Download a template letter to organisations

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit


LOBBYING TACTICS cont. 3. Organise a petition Petitions are a great way to demonstrate wider support, as well as spreading the word about your campaign. If your target is a politician, there are few things more powerful than a list of thousands of signatures from potential voters. Think creatively about ways to maximise the number of signatures, engage people to sign petitions at events, or ask partners to spread the word. You could target specific groups of people or audiences with specific petitions for example this midwives petition. Don’t forget, there will always be mechanism to sign up to our calls (an online petition!) at so you could always direct online audiences there.

Download template petition text

4. Set up meetings or find ways to speak to your advocacy targets Look out for events or meetings where politicians or leaders might be speaking, opening a building, etc.You could use the opportunity to hand in a petition or campaign information.

TIP: If you find someone who supports the campaign, remember to keep them up to date with your actions and successes.

Politicians may have set time where they meet members of the public – take such an opportunity to inform them about the health worker crisis. If you have a meeting with a decision maker or other influential person, make sure that you go to the meeting prepared with the facts and with an outline of what you want them to do. Make sure you give them documents that they can look at later. And don’t forget to write a letter afterwards, thanking them for meeting with you/ your organisation and reminding them of the 20 September meeting at which they can make a commitment.


Download a petition design here

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit

Download example questions to MPs


LOBBYING TACTICS cont. 5. Organise or attend an event You can use any social or political event that ties in with your chosen issue during the decision-making period as an advocacy opportunity. In order to take advantage of an advocacy opportunity, you must have: • a clear idea of what you intend to achieve by attending or organising the event and how it will help achieve your advocacy objective • adequate time to plan, to make the best use of all available resources • a clear advocacy message • the right supporting materials to help deliver the message effectively: reports with executive summary, posters, etc.

6. Back up your messages – use policy reports and research Advocacy depends on evidence – about the causes of the problem you are addressing and the viability of your proposed solution. How can your programme experience be used to provide evidence for advocacy? What does it tell you about the problems the possible solutions?

Taking part in a public hearing or health tribunal enables people to share testimonies about the challenges they face and to put pressure on governments to take action. Public hearings have taken place throughout the world and have proven to be a powerful way of making voices heard. Many people can attend a public hearing including the local health movement organisers, district or regional health officials and an independent panel of health and social sector experts. • You collect information of when health care has been denied from the public health system, resulting in serious consequences. • You present your reports and stories, and can also suggest a series of recommendations on strengthening health care and making the government more accountable. • Health officials respond and are asked to comment on the cases and outline specific steps that would be taken to redress structural issues. • Panellists give their assessment and recommendations, which you can then report to the media, leading to widespread awareness raising.

Download the latest reports and research

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit

7. Organise or take part in health tribunal

Download more information on public hearings


LOBBYING TACTICS cont. 8. Organise a national ‘send off’ event You could arrange an event or meeting to send off your delegation as they depart for the UN General Assembly. This is an opportunity to keep the issue in the media, to express what civil society would like to see happen at the meetings, to let the public know that they’re going and to remind leaders of the commitments we want them to make. Your ‘send off’ might include: • Arrange a public event and invite the delegation to attend.You can demonstrate how much the public care for this issue and create a platform for civil society organisations, health workers and key civil society partners to make the case for more health workers. This event can be held in a positive way, congratulating the government on progress made so far, wishing them luck at the UN meeting and building a partnership between government and civil society.

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit

• Run an advertising campaign to send the delegation off by placing adverts in positions that will get notice by the delegation such as at the airport or on route to the airport. • Collect signs of support for the campaign and present these to the delegation alongside our recommendations. Handing the sticking plasters to decision makers just before they depart will show the depth of public concern about the gap in health workers. • You could even organise an event at the airport with placards reminding leaders of the issue and their commitments, if they have made any. • Organise a private lobby meeting with the delegation just before they go to the summit to present key recommendations. This could be attended by key partners, health workers, members of the public and children.

Health workers are vital for progress on global health and development, and for ensuring the millennium development goals are met. Bold leadership is needed. World leaders each need to make new, substantial and specific commitments to expand the number of health workers and better support those workers who are already in place.


mobilisation TACTICS In order to create pressure for change mobilising people is very important. It shows decision-makers that people believe it’s unacceptable that a mother or child does not have accessible health workers who are adequately supported to do their job of saving lives. We want to generate and demonstrate the groundswell of support needed for leaders to want to be bold. By getting millions of people to take action, and by ensuring significant global media coverage, we’ll ensure the necessary ‘buzz’ to build pressure for a health worker breakthrough. We want to see 3.5 million public actions, echoing the number of additional health workers needed.

1. Use the website to encourage people to take action On July 20th we will launch an online platform on behalf of all the organisations coming behind our health worker call. The website will be a place individuals and organisations can sign up and take action for the campaign, upload campaign news and health worker stories and engage with other supporters. It will support local campaigners and organisers by providing downloadable tools and tactics.

photos, videos and stories about health workers or your campaign activity to the website. Exciting content will attract more supporters. • Show the global support for the campaign to individuals or decision makers. An aggregator will show the number of actions taken in support of the health worker calls, and a map will show the actions taken around the world. Photos, videos and blogs will provide more depth. • Download the latest materials and tactics on the campaign, including updated versions of this toolkit.

Here is how you can engage and use the website to support your campaign: • Encourage others to take action. There is a sign up mechanism for both individuals and organisations. Those that sign up will be asked to share their action via social media or upload their own videos, photos or story.You can also embed the sign up tool in your own website. • Share your stories and encourage your supporters to do the same. Even if your campaign activity takes place offline, you can still upload

Go to

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit


mobilisation TACTICS cont. 2. Be creative – Use the sticking plaster to engage supporters

You could use the sticking plaster in a number of different ways:

We’ve developed a common symbol, a sticking plaster/band-aid, that could be used as a key creative to engage the public with our health worker call. The plaster is a global symbol of mending something that is broken. It is globally adaptable and scalable. Plasters are commonly available in many parts of the world, so is often a recognisable symbol. Using the sticking plaster will create unique, visible actions that people will notice.

• Use the sticking plasters in a stunt to attract media and public attention.You could hold a giant plaster outside key buildings or monuments, or even wrap a building or monument. • Encourage people to wear plasters, plaster stickers or T-shirts – you could hand plasters out at face-to-face activities and events. • Award health workers or decision-makers with special sticking plasters. • Ask celebrities to show their support by wearing a sticking plaster for a photo or ask politicians to wear one to demonstrate their support for the call. • Encourage people upload photos of them wearing sticking plasters, and use sticking plaster avatars/twibbons to show support digitally.

Tip: Conduct your stunt alongside campaigns in other countries to get greater media exposure.You could do this at the 20 July launch, or 11 August 3.5 million second countdown.

Download the plaster icon and visuals

Download template posters

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit


mobilisation TACTICS cont. 3. Organise or take part in popular events and stunts Popular events are a key way to engage people and an important moment for collecting actions.You could use an event to recognise and appreciate health workers, for example health workers meeting political leaders, health worker award ceremonies, mass events where health workers are brought to the stage as heroes to tell their stories, videos of health worker stories, and more. As part of a popular event stunts can be a great way to attract the media. Stunts usually make great photographs, which can be used to tell the story about the shortage of health workers. If you are planning a public stunt make sure you have permission from the authorities and tell them exactly what you plan to do. Think about how you could link our creative concept, the sticking plaster, and key moments – to do a stunt.

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit

Stunts and events are made more powerful by the attendance of high profile figures – you could think about how to secure your own national champions for this campaign. These could be celebrities or influential high-profile personalities. They could issue and reassert the calls, attract media attention and encourage individual support. Make sure to get publicity for your event • Contact your local newspapers and radio and TV • Write your press/news release, being sure to include contact details of the event organiser • Publicise the event in areas where there may be interest, for example market places, or community areas • Make sure to get photographs of the event or stunt

Tip: If you are organising an event or a stunt make sure you let the media know about it – send a press release – they may send someone to write a story for radio or newspapers. Tip: Organise an event where one or two health workers can tell their story. They can give people really good first-hand information about what they do and why more health workers are needed.


mobilisation TACTICS cont. 4. Use media to amplify your calls Getting media coverage for our health workers campaign and for your activities can take our message to mass public audiences and helps to get the attention of policy-makers and politicians. More publicity means more pressure on decision makers and means more people will know about the health worker crisis and will want to become involved.You should always consider your target audience when considering what channel is most appropriate – to target a Minister a national newspaper might relevant, whereas targeting mass support from ordinary people might mean using radio, depending on context.

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit

There are a number of different tactics you can take: • Pitch opinion pieces which can stimulate debate and keep our issues in the media. Ask a prominent writer, celebrity, partner of the campaign, or even health worker to write a piece explaining the current situation in your country. • Organise radio debates or talk shows.You could arrange for a radio debate involving children and/or health workers to ask your political targets questions about health workers and the health system. This could be repeated on return so that the delegation have a platform to tell people what happened and what changes they should expect to see. • Arrange a media round table inviting the media and civil society to ask questions and start to build a dialogue with the political targets. • Place an advertisement in a prominent paper. This could advertise the health worker moment and wish the delegation luck. It could highlight what the public hope to see from the September moment. • Issue a press release.

Tips for getting media coverage • Hold events – public campaign events are great occasions to get journalists to attend, especially if you have the ‘draw’ of a prominent politician or celebrity • Think about health workers in your country whose stories you could ‘sell’ to journalists. • Try to engage with specific journalists who are already interested in your issues – is there a prominent columnist who is interested in health-related matters, for example? • Engage editors – One way might be to create a bespoke editors’ sticking plaster petition that asks all editors of major media (including broadcast) to put wear a sticking plaster and encourage as many people as possible to participate in this activity. • Write a ‘Letter to the Editor’ stating your concerns about the lack of health workers.

TIP: Don’t forget to a include personal story in your media pitches.


mobilisation TACTICS cont. How to write a press release


You will get more attention for your press release if it is well written and gets your point across clearly. When writing your press release remember that you are announcing a campaign, an event or a news item. Be sure to think about what to include based on the five Ws that should make up a news item: who, what, when, where and why. Highlight the key date of 20 September, so that journalists know it is important that people take action now.

1 2

Give the release an eye-catching headline – eg, the title of the campaign.


Next, explain the context for the campaign, in this case, for example, why health workers are vital for children’s survival and development.


Give specific information from your country, if possible.You could include a quote from a health worker.


Your first paragraph must state the purpose of the campaign succinctly and provide the most important facts, including important dates.

< ENDS > This goes at the end of the main body of the press release, signifying that this is the end of the text that can be quoted verbatim.

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit

You can include further factual background information can be added at the end of the press release, under the heading ‘NOTES FOR EDITORS’. Tips for writing a great press release: • Use one page at most for the main body of your press release. If you need to, a second page can include the additional information. • Be sure the date of the release is at the top and include the campaign logo, and the sticking plaster visual if it’s relevant. • Keep sentences short. • Do not say the same thing more than once. • Be as factual as possible, avoiding opinions. • Think about your audience so that the information you give is relevant to them. • Avoid jargon and acronyms. Editors and journalists will not want to spend time looking up terms. • Include contact details so that journalists can speak to someone to get more information about the campaign. • If you can, follow up the press release with a telephone call or an email.

Download press release here


5. Use social media to spread the word

Here are some simple ways to get involved

3. Start a Conversation:

Social media has reinvented grass roots campaigning. Facebook, Twitter,Youtube and the like has provided people with the opportunity to collaborate, coordinate and give voice to their concerns.

1. Stay up to date:

Using social media we can create strong campaigning networks and bring a great amount of people together in a short space of time to inspire change.

2. Share:

• Blog Start blogging about the issue! Blogging beforehand can alert others and encourage them to learn more. Share your blogs with us on • Vlog Start a Video Log (Vlog) on Youtube or Vimeo, comment about the issue and the spread the word. Add it to

follow and the #healthworkers hashtag and visit for latest information • Twitter Sending tweets out to your followers is a great way to keep everyone updated on what’s happening, just don’t forget to add the #healthworkers hashtag so we can keep track. • Facebook Click and share photos, stories and other content from to your facebook profile page and encourage your friends to take action. We will be running online events & activities throughout the lead up to September, so it’s vital for you to keep sharing and participating.

We’ve already seen the power of using social media to promote the campaign – we reached over 2 million people on twitter when the healthworker statement was released in UK newspaper, the Guardian, in May.

It starts with you.

Dowload more and social media messaging ideas

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit


beyond september… Our job after the UN summit is to continue to hold governments to account on their commitments (or lack thereof) and it is our job as campaigns to ensure that we communicate the result to our campaigners and develop the appropriate next steps.

Depending on the outcome for your country, your post-September strategy could be focussed on 3 different approaches: 1. Celebrating Success. Your country has made

or built upon an ambitious commitment that sets it on track to meet MDGs 4&5. Obviously such great steps forward should be recognised, but your campaigning focus should also now move to supporting implementation and holding governments to account. 2. Acknowledging good ‘first steps’ and pushing for more. For most of us, the

summit will delivery both victories and missed opportunities. It is important to acknowledge the best first steps but continue to put pressure on for the right plans and programmes to meet MDGs 4&5 3. Disappointment. Campaigning means calling

out, tirelessly for the right actions to happen without fatigue. If your government disappointed you at the summit, you should express this (tactfully and appropriately) and keep up the good fight

health worker breakthrough campaign toolkit

The outcome for your country and the subsequent approach you take will also dictate the activities you undertake to meet your objectives. Many of the ideas for pre-summit activity could also be done post-September to continue to ramp up the pressure or to assist with communication between government and citizens as well as implementation. Some great post-September activities could involve: • Public hearings or health tribunals as explained above: a great way for citizens to communicate their health experiences to decision makers • Post-event ‘congratulations’ or expressions of disappointment – this could be another use for our global plaster branding • Using national legislative events and opportunities to express your opinions (sending letters or organising demonstrations ahead of speeches or meetings of your local parliament) • Reporting back and publicising the outcome in media through press releases, interview or opinion pieces (try to involve midwives or health workers as much as possible in this to make it more meaningful)



After September, we need to keep on leaders to deliver on their promises after the UN GA. Find out more

Health Workers Count Comms Toolkit  

Communications Toolkit for Health Workers Count