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Policy Accelerator

City staff implement traffic-calming measures at a high-fatality intersection in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, currently working with the Policy Accelerator on an anti-speeding policy.

Policy change is difficult, but the sustainability and scale of impact makes it a critical component of public health. All too often, great policy ideas languish in public health circles, unable to get the support or resourcing they need to bring them to life. Vital Strategies’ Policy Accelerator is an answer to that problem.

Vital Strategies’ Policy Accelerator supports health, environmental and climate champions in building and advancing focused health policy proposals designed for maximum impact, including navigating the complex social and political hurdles to adoption. It provides training and support that puts health leaders in the driver’s seat as they work on actual problems they are facing, making change more likely. The Accelerator puts best-in-class tools, methods and expertise at the fingertips of participants that they can leverage for future challenges.

Participants begin by identifying a significant health policy challenge unique to their context, and work through a step-by-step consideration of data analysis, policy development, strategic advocacy and action planning. They complete the Accelerator with new skills and tools, and an evidence-based, feasible and cost-effective policy proposal and action plan to adopt it. Policy Accelerator participants have advanced stronger drink-driving laws, the creation of new smoke-free areas, improved health and environmental surveillance and expanded access to reproductive services.

Vital Strategies’ Policy Accelerator supports multi-country cohorts, creating a peer-exchange environment where participants work alongside each other to tackle related local health challenges. The Accelerator format is adapted for each cohort, featuring dedicated webinars and in-person meetings interspersed with participant work and technical assistance towards completing milestones in evidence collection and analysis, policy development, advocacy strategy and action planning.

Legal and technical staff in Córdoba, Argentina met recently to discuss progress on the city’s Policy Accelerator project, to be announced in October 2022.

Vital Strategies’ world-class experts are the trainers, instructors and facilitators of cohort sessions. We draw from a pool of seasoned experts in public health, data collection and analysis, legal work, advocacy and media communications. Session leaders are selected for relevance to each cohort according to regional, cultural and issue-specific experience and are often multi-lingual. Live sessions emphasize both didactic and participatory learning, with exercises and breakout discussions that draw out the questions and experiences of participants.

Vital Strategies has delivered aspects of the Policy Accelerator program on four occasions over the past three years:  

  • To 13 cities in the Partnership for Healthy Cities, a global network of 70 cities committed to reducing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries that is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization and Vital Strategies (ongoing, 2021-22).
  • To newly appointed WHO Country Representatives from 20 countries who selected policy topics from WHO’s Global Programme of Work (May 2018); each participant completed the workshop with an evidence-based policy brief with specific recommendations for implementation. 
  • To WHO Country Directors, WHO technical staff, and government Ministry of Health (MOH) staff from 28 countries in AFRO, SEARO, EMRO and India focusing on sexual and reproductive health and rights policy (2019-21); Every country team completed the workshop with a draft policy brief and an action plan for policy implementation. 
  • To technical staff from government MOH from nine countries in Europe, focused on policies to improve public health data collection and use (November 2019). 

For more information about the Policy Accelerator, contact