The first alumni meeting was held in Dar es Salaam on August 2011 with 70 participants in attendance from different parts of Tanzania. It was a three-day meeting, which included a Leadership in Strategic Health Communication (LSHC) refresher training for the alumni and an annual general meeting. Sessions were held to orient LSHC Alumni on the most up-to-date skills and knowledge in the field of strategic health communication. Additionally, feedback sessions were coordinated in order to learn how the alumni had been progressing after completing the training, and how the training had impacted their lives.
The meeting also served as the catalyst for the activation of the alumni network, by putting alumni in contact and giving them the opportunity to get to know one another. Tanzania Capacity and Communication (TCCP) staff also introduced the ACE mentoring program, another of TCCP’s core capacity building initiatives, and worked with Tanzania Strategic Health Communication (TASHCOM) Network members to identify opportunities for alumni to become future mentors.
TCCP coordinated LSHC alumni meetings in 2012, attended by 276 alumni, and 2014, attended by 140 alumni. Alumni decided to hold zonal meeting leading up to these annual general meetings in Iringa, Mwanza, and Dar es Salaam, which were well-attended. These meetings served as opportunities to agree on objectives, milestones, and activities for each of the zonal chapters.
At the February 2014 meeting, alumni shared their experiences implementing SBCC campaigns, including district campaigns conducted by eight District Health Management Teams that they designed during their time as students in the LSHC Workshop. Dr. Doug Storey from Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs in Baltimore gave a keynote address and provided valuable feedback and reflection on the district campaigns. Alumni registered for SpringBoard, the online global network for social and behavior change communication professionals, and discussed a sustainability plan for TASHCOM including fundraising and ongoing networking and collaboration.
The Structure of TASHCOM
Alumni members agreed that the network would have regional representatives, from each of the 10 regions where members come from and zonal representatives from the five zones. Three zonal chapters of the network were also established in the Southern Highlands, Lake Zone, and Coastal Zone.
TCCP also supported the network to draft a constitution and to become legally registered as a network with the government of Tanzania.