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Advocacy is defined as actions that bring about social change through a focus on policy and legislation. It aims to create an enabling environment which advances and protects health and development and within which people are more able to make healthy choices for themselves, their families and their communities. Creating an enabling environment means removing the structural barriers to health such as poverty and inequality.
Promoting healthy public policy is one of the key pillars of Health Promotion as articulated in the World Health Organisation’s Ottawa Charter. Advocacy for healthy public policy is a vital tool in the struggle for health equity and human rights.
Using a range of advocacy tools, including research, media, lobbying and social mobilisation, the Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication (Soul City: IHDC)’s advocacy agenda is to actively put forward solutions to remove the structural barriers to optimal health and to achieve a society within which everybody is able to achieve the highest level of health and well being. Its advocacy agenda is driven by the values of equality, human rights and social justice, as espoused by the South African constitution and the international Human Rights declarations and conventions which South Africa has signed and ratified.
The Advocacy Department, established in 1999 has the following areas of focus:
- Focused advocacy campaigns.
- Ongoing media advocacy to place health and development issues on the public agenda.
- Advocacy training for NGOs and other civil society groupings with a focus on how to deal more effectively with the media.
- Working with journalists to enhance media coverage of health and development issues.