First global health conference recommends national action plan for social marketing, franchising

Kochi, Dec 5: The first ever global health conference on social marketing (SM) and social franchising (SM) drawing up hundreds of health experts, practitioners and policy makers today recommended creation of a national action plan to scale up potential of SM and SF in India and formation of broad South-East Asian forum to synergise the best global practices.

The three-day event, concluded here today, was organized by HLFPPT, a not-for-profit trust promoted by the mini-Ratna Central public sector enterprise HLL Lifecare Ltd, with the support of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA), HLL and National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).

Presenting the recommendations, made after the brainstorming involving senior government officials from India and abroad, HLL chairman and the managing director Dr M Ayyappan said the South-East Asian Association on Social Marketing and Social Franchising will be formed within the next two months, after finalizing the formalities.

The partnering nations of this grand coalition would be Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri-Lanka, Thailand, and Timor-Leste.

Recommendations of the national action plan will be submitted to the Government of India while formulating national health sector programmes and policies.

On finding a right pathway for India, the conference suggested a comprehensive national-level action plan to reach the unreached or under reached utilizing the tools of social marketing and social franchising.  Stating that focus will be given on better utilization of government infrastructure, Dr Ayyappan said that capacity building efforts will be stepped up for generating higher number of skilled workforce.

He said that social marketing will be included in the public health modules to achieve the goal of universal health coverage. Knowledge capturing and identification of other areas where the concept of social marketing and social franchising will also be key elements of this action plan.

 

The consensus among the practioners and policy makers to take the concept of social marketing and social franchising beyond family planning and contraceptive marketing was one of the major outcomes of the conference.

The meet also called for a regional action understanding regional needs, donor perspective, supply and demand side. It will also include creation of a working group, measures for capacity building, efforts for broadening the basket of products, much beyond the family planning.

The conference, attended by nearly 400 delegates from India and 24 other countries, witnessed 74 thought-provoking presentations, networking between several country representatives, sharing of best global practices and unanimous decision by leading donor organizations to work jointly on the front.

Addressing the valedictory session, Mr C K Mishra, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, called upon the stakeholders to help the government find out the gaps in the field and formulate long-lasting policies based on the suggestions from them.

Dr. Praveen Mishra, Secretary, Minister of Health and Population, Govt of Nepal, said his country wanted to take home the valuable lessons on social marketing from the successful programmes being implemented in India. Pointing out that two-third of Nepal had mountains and accessibility was a big problem, he felt that social marketing could be a useful tool to ensure universal health.

Dr Francis Runumi, Commissioner Health Services (Planning), Ministry of Health in Uganda, said his country was new into social marketing in the health sector and wanted to work closely with nations like India to make healthcare schemes more effective.

Talking on behalf of the leading development institutions, UNFPA country representative Frederika Meijer said the task under the Family Planning 2020 programme was to reach 125 million more women in India. She said the social organsiations were committed to work with the government and the private sector in the area of social marketing & social franchising.

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