As part of the Health Campaign Effectiveness Coalition’s research portfolio, a team from the University of Ottawa, Bruyere Research Institute, University of Medical Sciences, and University of Health and Allied Sciences recently presented the results of a new study. The project’s goal was to understand the opportunities and challenges for campaign co-delivery and collaboration from the perspectives of campaign managers and other country-level decision makers. The team conducted in-depth key informant interviews with 26 health campaign managers across immunization, polio, malaria, Vitamin A, and NTD programs from Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Indonesia, and Nigeria, which were then coded according to existing and emerging themes. The team also presented on the findings during the first Test & Learn event–view the summary and recording here, and see livetweets from the event on the HCE Twitter account here and LinkedIn here.
Below are nine key takeaways and tips for campaign managers.
When deciding whether or not to integrate campaigns:
1. Weigh the benefits and risks
While integration can offer a number of benefits, it is not always the right solution. Campaigns with different target populations and geographic areas, those that are using different types of metrics to judge success, and those with drastically different funding structures may not have enough in common to benefit from integration.
“Go through different scenarios, assess the different risks involved, and to be sure that benefits outweigh those risks,” said a Ministry of Health staff member working in vector-borne diseases.
2. Consider integration at multiple levels
Integration is not “all or nothing”–it’s a spectrum that includes many possible points of collaboration. By studying examples of partial integration, or sharing campaign components between vertical health programs without co-delivery of interventions, you may find there are many areas for potential integration that you may not have considered.
As a Ministry of Health staff member working in a malaria program noted, “Sometimes people don’t even know that they are integrating, but if you were to really assess it, they have integration at different levels.”
3. Be transparent about the challenges, not just the benefits
While integrating health campaigns can offer significant benefits, it can also lead to additional challenges, such as managing funds from different sources, merging overlapping calendars, and arranging transportation of interventions. Setting clear expectations can help give implementing partners and campaign workers a more realistic idea of the expected level of effort and results.
“We shouldn’t put things as if everything is rosy. It’s not going to be rosy,” said an implementing partner in NTDs. “So, from the outset, we have to communicate openly that these are the merits, and these are the demerits.”
4. Allow sufficient time for planning.
Planning typically takes longer than many campaign managers expect. Make sure to schedule extra time in the planning period, and it may save you time in the long run.
“All I would say is give time for planning, planning, planning,” said an implementing partner in immunizations.
5. Ensure that leadership is supportive
Leadership is one of the most important factors that contributes to the success of health campaigns. Campaign managers should ensure that the national health partners are invested in the success of the campaign, and will take responsibility for its components.
“To get the ownership and the leadership from the national counterpart is very very important for the [campaign’s] success,” said an implementing partner working in polio.
6. Be prepared to invest wisely
Health campaigns require funding and other resources. Reductions to campaign budgets can undermine their success. Campaign planners should highlight the message that campaign funding is an investment, not an excessive or unnecessary expenditure.
As an NTD implementing partner stated, “We have to invest whatever is needed.”
7. Take small steps
Integrating campaigns can seem daunting. Breaking the process down into smaller steps can make the process significantly easier.
“Start with things which are acceptable for everyone. It could be very minimal. It could be ‘let us meet once a month’,” said an implementing partner in NTDs.
8. Collaborate around shared goals, populations, or communities
Teaming up with other programs or integrating with other campaigns that target the same population and/or geographic area can help improve efficiencies.
“Look for the things which can really win [the] minds and hearts of everybody around the table,” said an implementing partner in NTDs. “If I am going to spend only 50% of my resources and [still] get the thing done, I am pretty sure that nobody will say no to that type of partnership.”
9. Think outside the box
Managers should not limit themselves to looking at similar campaigns for inspiration; applicable lessons, practices, and ideas can come from any area of the field.
“Let’s think out of our box and learn to work with others, with partners,” said a Ministry of Health staff member in an NTD program. “There are a lot of lessons to learn and also from elsewhere…So, for me, it’s just to be open-minded and address health problems in the community.”
View the full study here.