In searching for opportunities, you might explore:
- Did my President endorse the African Leaders’ Declaration on immunisation?
- Are there parliamentary champions on immunisation that I could leverage and/or partner with?
- Is there a Gavi CSO platform in my country that I could join or partner with?
It is important to be thinking and looking ahead to identify any possible risks, obstacles and opposition so you can adjust your strategy and plan, come up with creative solutions, and reduce their impact.
It is also strategic and smart to identify good opportunities as they come along, and be open to them so as to maximise impact.
For example, you might encounter some of these issues, barriers or problems that can stall or halt your plans, and you should anticipate solutions.
Budget problems or lack of support
Your organisation has resource challenges and constraints, or your senior management is concerned about the impact of your advocacy efforts, or they do not understand the value of it.
You have planned an event and then discover there is something else happening that day that will overshadow yours. For example, elections have been called, or a major crisis draws decision-makers’ attention away.
Political agendas change or don’t align
Your issue is not a priority on the decision-maker’s agenda. The lack of political commitment to the issue can be a major obstacle.
Political health initiatives
Other health groups are working on another initiative, which can lead to a sort of competition for attention, funding and political commitment. Often, in fact, there are ways to strengthen your cause by joining up or working in cooperation with others. Look for synergies.
Sometimes your advocacy efforts will be confronted with direct opposition. Scan the media regularly to pick up messaging from groups who might chose to block your efforts.
Politics often pits sides and viewpoints, and you might find your initiative is caught in the midst. Do not hesitate to leverage your parliamentary relationships.
Anti-vaccine groups and negative messages
Some countries have anti-vaccine groups, and unfortunately they are becoming more widespread. It is important to be aware of who they are and what they are saying so you can respond as necessary. Note that it is not always necessary to counter negative messages, especially if the opponent are not even influential with your target audience.
It is important to seize opportunities to get your messages out, to encounter decision-makers and increase the impact of your efforts. Some opportunities can be spotted in advance, but some come up unexpectedly. Do not be so fixed on your plan that you cannot be flexible when opportunity knocks!
Start by mapping out potential future opportunities to conduct immunisation-related advocacy initiatives, such as World/Africa Immunisation Week; World Pneumonia Day, vaccine campaigns and introductions, public health or immunisation summits or conferences.