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Case study

Leveraging the power of communities for stronger NCD advocacy

People and communities are central to achieving long-term sustainable change — both because they drive change and because they can articulate the changes that are needed at community and health systems level to achieve accessible and equitable care. NCD Alliance (NCDA) works with communities to implement changes that are accountable and responsive to the demands of people living with NCDs at national and regional levels.

Such is the story of the NCD Alliance Kenya’s (NCDAK) work in Kenya where leveraging the power of communities has enabled multiple policy changes, supported by the NCDA. To ensure that people living with NCDs are part of the decision-making processes in Kenya, NCDAK facilitated multiple capacity building initiatives. The aim was to build skills and encourage people living with NCDs to articulate their experiences seeking care and to advocate for necessary changes relating to health financing. This has had a profound effect in Kenya, where multiple high-level decision makers are paying close attention to the needs of people living with NCDs. A most notable example of this is the work done through the Caucus of People Living with NCDs for Kenya’s National Strategic Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2020/21-2025/26, whereby NCDAK facilitated the meaningful involvement of people living with NCDs in the technical working groups that developed the strategy.

The voices of civil society, people living with NCDs and communities played a pivotal role in changing the NCD landscape in Kenya, resulting in increasing willingness to listen to community voices across multiple levels of decision-making power — from county to national levels.

Advocacy enables change. NCDAK has worked to shift the enabling environment in Kenya, such that people living with NCDs are agents of change, gaining the ear and attention of high-level decision-makers. The collaborative approach of NCDAK and NCDA in Kenya influenced not only policymaking, but also decisions on financing and implementation. NCDAK conducted reviews of the status of health financing in six priority counties in the country to assess the level of NCD investment. NCDAK facilitated the participation of people living with NCDs in the Annual Development Plan — which sets out development priorities for the forthcoming year. On the implementation front, NCDAK is advocating for the prioritization of NCDs at the county level through social accountability activities led by people living with NCDs. Communities of people living with NCDs supported the creation of a community scorecard tool that incorporated monitoring of activities that respond to specific advocacy asks of people living with NCDs while accessing healthcare facilities. Activities included in the scorecard include the meaningful involvement of people living with NCDs, NCD drug and commodity availability and affordability, and perceived quality of NCD services. NCDAK trains implementors in social accountability and the application of the community scorecard tool, so that they can track progress on NCD service provision against established national targets.

NCDA’s impacts in Kenya point to the multiplier effect achieved when NCD action is community- and person-centric. NCDA supports through trainings and expertise, enabling people living with NCDs to think creatively about how they can advocate for their needs and priorities. With increased capacities, people living with NCDs shape agendas. The impacts achieved at multiple levels through NCDA’s work in Kenya also speak to the essential role that advocacy and leveraging the voices of people living with NCDs plays in driving change. In turn, this sets an example of the various ways in which people living with NCDs can be meaningfully involved in moving forward NCD dialogue, financing, and implementation.


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