Chakaria HDSS:Unlocking community capability through promotion of self-help for health

24 Feb 2017

People’s participation in health, enshrined in the 1978 Alma Ata declaration, seeks to tap into community capability for better health and empowerment. One mechanism to promote participation in health is through participatory action research (PAR) methods. Beginning in 1994, the Bangladeshi research organisation ICDDR,B implemented a project “self-help for health,” to work with existing rural self-help organisations (SHOs). SHOs are organisations formed by villagers for their well-being through their own initiatives without external material help.
Following a self-help conceptual framework and PAR, the project focused on building the capacity of SHOs and their members through training on organisational issues, imparting health literacy, and supporting participatory planning and monitoring. Villagers and members of the SHOs actively participated in the self-help activities. SHO functionality increased in the intervention area, in terms of improved organisational processes and planned health activities. Conclusion: Building community capability by working with pre-existing SHOs, encouraging them to place health on their agendas, strengthening their functioning and implementation of health activities led to sustained improvements in utilisation of services for over 20 years. Key elements underpinning success include efforts to build and maintain trust, ensuring social inclusion in project activities, and balancing demands for material resources with flexibility to be responsive to community needs. Read more