Storytelling with a purpose: Supporting the growth of Our Views, Our Voices advocates

Twelve people living with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) from seven countries take part in a virtual Our Views, Our Voices training on how to become effective NCD spokespeople and advocates.

The training, which took place over two weeks from 15 to 26 November 2021, aimed to equip participants with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to share their lived experiences publicly and call for action on NCDs.

In view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the specific vulnerabilities related to people living with NCDs, the NCD Alliance adopted a virtual training format in 2021 to expand the group of trained, confident lived experience advocates driving change on NCDs.

"I learnt that being the voice for the voiceless is such a powerful thing because it reminds me to demand to be seen and heard."
- Participant from Malaysia at the Our Views Our Voices virtual training

Participants lived with a range of NCDs including epilepsy, psoriasis, bipolar type 2, anxiety, rheumatoid arthritis, breast cancer, hypertension, and type 1 diabetes. The training included participants from countries where national Advocacy Agendas for People Living with NCDs were developed in 2021, including Bangladesh, Malawi, Malaysia, Philippines, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Vietnam.

The training had nine modules that familiarised participants with the NCD global policy landscape and perfected participants’ communication and advocacy skills to harness the power of their lived experiences. They also learnt how to build an impactful public narrative on NCDs and mobilise their communities to call for change.

"Storytelling is the key to action on matters related to NCDs."
- Participant from Tanzania at the Our Views, Our Voices training

The training explored the concept and mechanisms of meaningful involvement of people living with NCDs, including advocacy tools like the Advocacy Agenda of People Living with NCDs and the Global Charter on Meaningful Involvement of People Living with NCDs. Participants had the opportunity to identify topline advocacy messages for policymakers and other key stakeholders at local, regional, and national levels.

The NCD Alliance is grateful to all participants for their passion and commitment towards the training sessions and for generously sharing their personal experiences. Our Views, Our Voices Global Advisory Committee member Christopher Agbega from Ghana co-led the training as a peer trainer, bringing his personal experience as an NCD advocate to inspire the participants. This virtual training was possible thanks to the NCD Alliance’s partnership with Access Accelerated.