The World Health Organisation [WHO] provides global technical and policy guidance on the provision of sexual and reproductive healthcare services. However, access to Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights [SRHR] services across the world has been hindered by the anti-choice movement. The barriers created by the anti-choice movement have affected many parts of the world and Zambia is no exception. Although, safe abortion has been legal in Zambia since 1972, many women still face social and legal barriers to access the service and are forced to seek unsafe abortion instead. Unsafe abortion remains among the top five causes of maternal mortality in Zambia. This is despite Zambia having an abortion law that is considered liberal.
Addressing the problem of unsafe abortion, especially barriers that women and girls face when seeking the service becomes paramount. Advocacy remains one of the strategic ways to addressing these challenges. Therefore, the need for strengthened advocacy skills amongst SRHR advocates and a creation of a strategy for advocacy is an essential part of the health system. It is in this context that ZAGO conducted SMART Advocacy training. This training encompasses key components aimed at transforming traditional advocacy by using a much more methodical approach. This kind of advocacy has shown a proven framework for developing a focused and collaborative advocacy strategy that leads to advocacy wins. SMART advocacy development process focuses on actions that have the highest level of impact in the short-term, connecting these short-term successes or “quick wins” with broader, long-term goals.
ZAGO identified among other key participants, ZAGO members, midwives, clinical officers, medical licentiates, nurses, civil society organizations and legal personnel as key participants. The goal was to ensure that at the end of the training, the participants were expected to:  be able to employ the method in their own advocacy settings; and  be able to develop a SMART advocacy strategy for future use.
Held in Kabwe, the training was conducted through open discussions, interactions, and sharing practical experience, which enabled the process more successfully. Participants were introduced to a cross-cutting understanding of the policy environment, provide insight on reaching the right decision maker, with the right message, at the right time; developed SMART objectives and provided guidance to identify gaps that require policy, funding or visibility intervention and further guided on how to develop an advocacy strategy and workplan.
The Advocacy goal was to: “Reduce maternal death due to unsafe abortions.”
To achieve this goal, two objectives were developed:
Objective one: The Director Public Health at Ministry of Health to include language on Telemedicine in accordance with the 2022 WHO guidelines in the draft Reproductive Health policy by December, 2022.
Objective two: Director General for the regulatory committee of ZAMRA, to deregulate prescription purchase of emergency contraceptive pills (morning after pills) to over-the-counter drugs by June 2023.