(January 2015) PRB held its well-known training workshop on policy communication at the Alexandria High Institute for Public Health, in Egypt, in October 2014. It was the seventh in a series of six-day workshops that PRB’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Program has held in Egypt since 2009 for researchers and program managers whose work relates to population and sexual and reproductive health (see table).

Policy Communication Training Workshops in Egypt

City/Year Collaborating Organization Workshop Topic
December 2009
Assiut University’s Department of Public Health and Community Medicine Population and reproductive health
October 2011
Assiut University’s Department of Public Health and Community Medicine Youth sexual and reproductive health
March 2012
UNFPA Arab States Regional Office Maternal health
September 2012
UNFPA Arab States Regional Office Family planning
October-November 2012
Alexandria Center for Women’s Health and Development Youth reproductive health
January 2014
National Population Council Women’s reproductive health
October 2014
Alexandria High Institute for Public Health and Population Council HIV and AIDS

Participants review PRB materials during the policy communication training workshop in Alexandria, Egypt.
Photo Credit: PRB.

Public health professionals in MENA often talk about “wasted research,” recognizing that a huge amount of money is spent on research that rarely influences policies or programs to improve people’s lives. PRB’s policy communication workshops are designed to help address this issue. The core technical content is the same in all of the workshops, which focus on policy learning—translating and conveying evidence to policy audiences; coalition building—strengthening a group’s ability to advocate effectively for change; and agenda setting—helping participants get their priority issues on policymakers’ agendas. By the end of the training, participants understand the policy process and how to develop communication strategies, write policy briefs or policy memos, and give effective policy presentations. The workshops emphasize a hands-on, participatory approach and allow the participants to work with their own data and research results.

The workshop held in Alexandria in October was funded by the Ford Foundation office in Cairo, focusing on HIV and AIDS in Egypt. Dr. Cherif Soleiman, the country director of Family Health International (a U.S.-based organization), presented an overview of the situation in Egypt; and Mr. Magid El-Arabeiy, the first Egyptian living with HIV who revealed his status in public forums, gave a talk about his experience and answered questions. The workshop was led by Farzaneh Roudi, director of PRB’s MENA program. She, Dr. Ghada Salah of the Assiut University, and Dr. Doaa Oraby of the Population Council office in Cairo, and Dr. Yasmine Yousri of the Alexandria High Institute for Public Health facilitated the sessions.

In early 2014, PRB granted the Egyptian National Population Council permission to translate PRB’s workshop materials into Arabic and hold an adapted version of PRB’s policy communication workshops. Assisted by previous participants of PRB’s workshops, the Council conducted four workshops by the end of the year for its staff and those of the Ministry of Health.

Farzaneh Roudi-Fahimi is director of PRB’s Middle East and North Africa program.