Advocacy is a buzz word that many of us are used to hearing. If we dig a little deeper, do really know what it means? Moreover, what does effective advocacy look like? MS organisations across Latin America are determined to find out.

It began with a conversation. In 2019, MS organisations from Paraguay, Argentina and Peru realised they faced similar challenges and they knew they needed to develop their advocacy work. Together, they applied for a seed grant. Seed grants are part of MSIF’s capacity building and they support MS organisations to develop sustainable strategies, programmes and projects for fundraising or advocacy.

The application from Asociación de Lucha contra la Esclerosis Múltiple (APEMED), Esclerosis Múltiple Argentina (EMA), Asociación de Lucha Contra la Esclerosis Múltiple (ALECEM), Asociación Esclerosis Múltiple Perú (ESMUP), and Asociación Hecho con Amor was successful. Under APEMED’s lead, the five organisations formed a partnership with the Fundacion Hospital Universitario in Argentina. Their mission was to create an advocacy teaching course for the MS community. The collaboration resulted in a specially tailored course on advocacy and MS from the Universidad Católica de Salta in Argentina.

The online course gives a holistic overview of patient advocacy. Participants are asked to attend webinars and share experiences and opinions on class forums. Guest speakers help make the readings relevant to the day-to-day running of MS organisations.

The diploma is split into four modules:

  1. An analysis of healthcare management: Looking at global healthcare challenges, the role of patients and the power of advocacy.
  2. Challenges facing patient organisations: The importance of change-oriented leadership and sharing patient experiences.
  3. Strategy: Practical tips on building alliances for change and communicating effectively.
  4. Sustainable advocacy: Building long-term partnerships with decision-makers and peers.

Students must complete a test after each module. A list of further readings gives students a chance to further explore issues that interest them.

This diploma has been a hit with MS organisations across Latin America. 33 members of the Latin American community will graduate with an Advocacy4MS diploma this month.  We asked a few participants what they thought of the course:

‘At this challenging time, this learning is incredibly valuable. The diploma has given me countless tips, tools, guides, and case-studies. We can put this learning into practice and better support the MS community we serve.’

APEMED, Paraguay,

‘With this guidance we can continue to strength our organisations and stakeholder partnerships. I am eternally grateful for all the advice, material and guides offered in this diploma.’

EMA, Argentina

Congratulations to all the new graduates. We can’t wait to see you put your advocacy learnings into practice!