To better align supply and demand, SBCC and service partners should confirm that their programs are compatible. This is often done through co-creating overall project strategies before the program is designed and aligning work plans.
Communication for Healthy Communities (CHC), an SBCC project operating in Uganda, works to improve uptake of key health services (malaria, HIV treatment and care, family planning, TB, and maternal and child health) delivered by a range of health partners in the public and private sectors in 112 districts.
CHC co-developed the project’s main campaign strategy in collaboration with service delivery partners, the relevant Ministry of Health technical working groups, and the Uganda AIDS Commission. Partners contributed to formative research, participated in the strategy design workshop and reviewed the resulting strategy and materials before they were finalized. The result is an umbrella campaign, Obulamu? (“How’s life?”), which aims to address barriers to service uptake and drive demand to high-volume health facilities that meet quality standards for service delivery.
For Obulamu, CHC consults with service delivery partners through monthly and quarterly meetings to review service statistics, revise demand-creation strategies and review work plans. Each high-volume clinic has service targets. If a clinic does not meet one of the targets, the partners use the periodic meetings to jointly revise demand-creation strategies for the next month. For example, when partners determined that demand for services was below targets in some clinics, CHC met with implementing partners to develop a revised strategy that increased engagement of village health teams to address identified client barriers to uptake. The project also increased media intensity through community radio stations, with modified messages on the specific days and times services were available.
Once such strategies are developed, it is important to align SBCC and service delivery work plans. In aligning work plans, it is necessary to consider sequencing and timing:
- Sequencing: Ensure the order of implementation for SBCC and service delivery activities is appropriate for the program. For example, will job aids be ready in time for the campaign launch? Will providers be identified in time for training on materials and good counseling techniques? Will interpersonal communication agents be trained and in place in time to generate demand for the new health service?
- Timing: Ensure the program schedule accounts for other events that are happening in the community, region, or country, such as school breaks, national holidays, cultural events, political events, and elections.
Often, due to funding streams and project cycles, SBCC and service delivery projects do not begin at the same time. This makes it difficult to sync workplans or co-create strategies. In these circumstances, it can be effective to review whatever project’s strategy is in place and decide how a new project could build off or coordinate with existing messages, activities, materials, or approaches. In this case, the projects’ strategies would not be the same, but the strategy and workplan would be informed by what is currently taking place. It can take advantage of lessons learned, fill in gaps, and harmonize messages.