On September 2015, the government in Burkina Faso adopted a policy to ensure Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all Burkinabe. In early 2016, Burkina Faso transformed this law into a landmark decree allowing free health care fees for children under the age of five, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers in March 2016 with its rollout beginning in April 2016.

Granting successful free health care to children under the age of five and pregnant women for a country such as Burkina Faso in under a year is no small feat - considering that nearly 64,000 children under the age of five died from preventable causes. This is also remarkable in a region where so many laws are voted, rarely implemented and often forgotten. It highlights a renewed leadership from current authorities in Burkina Faso. But this landmark move would not have been possible without strong advocacy and campaigning work based on our health interventions since 2009. 

Save the Children along with Help and Terre des Hommes ran free emergency nutritional programs for children under the age of five to ensure that medical staff would have more contact with children and thus enhance the screenings for malnutrition. After two years of running the program, it became clear that the free medical fees for children under the age of five would have a greater impact on children's health by increasing their chances for survival if taken at scale.

In a journey in which several actors were involved, Save the Children - with 10 other NGOs - used the results and learnings from our programs to lobby and launch a campaign that contributed to making this pioneering governmental decision in the region a reality. This first step towards UHC in Burkina will ensure that all children under the age of five nationwide will benefit from health care services thus giving them a chance to survive and thrive.

In just three months since its rollout, over 1.6 million children under the age of five (that is 10% of the country's population) have been treated and more than 280,000 received skilled assistance during their deliveries. This result is clearly in line with Save the Children's ultimate goal to ensure that every last will be able to survive by 2030. This major success reinforces Save the Children's reason for existing and confirms that structural changes to ensure children no longer die from preventable causes will come from our capacity to better integrate SMART advocacy and campaign strategies into our programmatic work, right from the design phase.