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Role Of Local Advocates, NGOs Important In Malawi’s Health System

In this post in the Health Affairs blog, Martha Kwataine, executive director for the Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) and head of the Access to Medicines Campaign in Malawi, examines the role of local advocates and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country’s health system. She writes, “Amidst [Malawi’s health] challenges, the role of civil society, especially advocates, cannot be overemphasized. Civil society organizations are the ‘watchdogs’ of government. Historically, they have played a critical role, not just by influencing policy formulation, but also by providing checks and balances to government power.”

She describes Malawi’s health system and her role as a local advocate, provides an example of advocacy in action in the country, and concludes, “At times like this, it becomes clear that donors need pushy local NGOs to deliver on their long-term goals of increasing access to health care. In return, local NGOs need donors to support them and advocate for their right to push their governments without fear of reprisal” (12/13).