Lobbying and advocacy
- Before doing anything, it is vital to determine if there is any political support for such an initiative. If there is seemingly no backing, it is wise not to progress until there is at least some interest at government level. Ideally the Health Minister plus the Finance Minister would be supportive. If this is not the case, the first task is to work towards this outcome. In Thailand, the Minister of Finance was an early supporter of the concept, which was seen as complementing the national Fiscal and Financial Master Plan for Social Development.
- Emphasis of the advocacy should always be on the short- and long-term health and other benefits for the population. The case should be based on evidence, which will require the gathering of baseline data highlighting population health status and trends. For example, if tobacco control is to be the major focus of the new body, data on prevalence and uptake of tobacco product consumption among the population, including children, are essential.
- The establishment of a new and separate entity with a degree of flexibility and independence is desirable. This kind of structure will be required to be able to undertake all of the tasks described above in a timely manner, without bureaucratic impediments.
- The entity and its funding must be supported by legislation to protect against political and administrative threats to the organization or its funding source.
- The organization must be efficient and transparent with its financial management processes and submit to timely independent audits. The organization will likely be subject to much scrutiny, particularly from groups that oppose the collection of dedicated taxes for health promotion.
- Health promotion interventions may require the establishment of new infrastructure. These rely on the formation of solid community partnerships consisting of partners that share a commitment to decentralize health programmes.
- The operations of the funding organization should be reviewed after a predetermined period of time to assess its effectiveness in relation to its objectives.
The legislation must be tailored to the organizational structure that has been selected for the country or state’s health promotion mechanism. Reviewing relevant legislation from other jurisdictions is a useful first step and will ensure the establishment of an efficient, effective, and transparent funding structure.