"It is important to acknowledge that the health crisis has exposed the fragility of our health system regarding the mobilization of internal resources to face major pandemics," said Solange Koné, co-founder and acting advocacy and policy director of ASAPSU.
Association Supporting Health and Urban Empowerment (ASAPSU), founded in 1989, has 10 sub-offices and a head office in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. It aims to improve the social and health conditions of vulnerable populations through their empowerment to ensure holistic development. ASAPSU's work focuses on thematic areas of the fights against HIV, tuberculosis, malaria; land ownership and rural financing; nutrition and early childhood development; and health systems in urban settlements.
Faced with an unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, ASAPSU exemplified boldness, ambition, and resilience in their work during 2020. In response to the emerging crisis, ASAPSU quickly pivoted to an emergency footing in March. Throwing their substantial grassroots organizational capabilities behind their efforts, ASAPSU responded to community needs for PPE and information about the disease, including protective measures to take. They joined the civil society in holding the government accountable for a robust and equitable response. They immediately began tracking government announcements and donations made to the government and conducted a survey of 50 CSOs from the FENOSCI network to collect evidence on health system delivery during the pandemic.
Equipped with the information and evidence from the tracking available resources and condition of the health system delivery during the pandemic, ASAPSU laid the foundation of their COVID-19 advocacy campaigns. In the spring, they produced a position paper endorsed by major civil society networks in Côte d'Ivoire, laying out the gaps in the health and sanitation systems exposed by COVID-19 and reiterating civil society's position on the national health plan. With their emergency appeal in August, ASAPSU and local partners called on the government to increase utilization of existing services by raising community awareness and strengthening the services; provide free preventative care, particularly for pregnant women and children; and deliver health coverage to 80 percent of the elderly.
ASAPSU used media advocacy and outreach to high-level government officials to drive an equitable and universal health system as part of the response and recovery. The officials acknowledged ASAPSU's role and considered the recommendations in decision making.
ACTION is incredibly proud to welcome ASAPSU and looking forward to leveraging our collective strength of equitable south-north partnership towards health for all!