Civil society’s role in improving hypertension control in Latin America

Champagne et al.

Despite effort in Latin America to implement the HEARTS initiative, hypertension control is still inadequate. There are many advances in the medical and technical arena, but little to promote political and systemic change. The vibrant civil society that has advanced policy change in tobacco control, food policy, and other public health initiatives can make a crucial contribution to prioritize hypertension control in the political agenda, ensure sustainable funding, promote the procurement of affordable and effective medications, and expand community demand for action. The recommended first step for civil society’s involvement is to analyze the political landscape to design an advocacy plan. The political landscape includes a legal analysis, policy mapping, stakeholders mapping, identifying obstacles, mapping community strategies, and risk assessment. The second step is to define policy goals and an advocacy strategy. Based on experience, there would be two main policy goals: to increase political will to make hypertension a top priority, securing necessary resources; and strengthen community awareness and social demand for action. The third step is to develop and implement the advocacy plan with the tools familiar to civil society, including building a case for support, advocacy towards decision makers, media advocacy, coalition building, countering the opposition, and civil society monitoring and accountability. To jumpstart this approach, there should be incentives for civil society and a transition for transferring competencies to a new arena. The results would be more sustainable and scalable hypertension control, better health outcomes, and advances toward the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and universal health coverage.

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Opinion and analysis