Capacity building for civil society organisations and health advocates
It is important to note that the civil society has played a significant role in conceiving and shaping the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) as it evolved in the period of first UPA government. Several civil society organisations engaged with the government in the initial phase of NRHM as members of several high profile committees such as ASHA mentoring group, Advisory Group on Community action and as members of several common review missions and community monitoring process, had influenced the shaping of NRHM as it rolled out in various states. One example of such an influence at the policy level being was the retreat of the government from an inappropriate focus on the population control agenda which was clearly evident in the initial policies and strategies. Civil Society organisations also effectively used the platforms available at different levels to improve the implementation of NRHM by way of looking at the performance of the rural public health system and by analysing and assessing the issues arising out of its implementation. As part of community monitoring efforts, the activity documented the implementation process, and provided feedback for improvement. This was done by collecting primary information through periodic surveys, as well as by looking at relevant policy documents, and preparing reports based on all this information. These reports were widely disseminated and discussed. The information collected was used to mobilise communities to watch for possible negative developments in the context of the mission. This is possible when policies are shaped in a people-centric manner and also by helping the health programmes to reach the grassroots. Building capacity of civil society organisations and its leaders will go a long way in facilitating this. Civil Society organisations are also expected to play a role in empowering communities to manage their own health care needs.
Considering the potential role of Civil Society organisations and health advocates in shaping the national policies in health and its implementation, the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation is supporting a nationwide capacity-building effort to strengthen and to prepare them for their role in health sector.
- To create awareness among the health advocates in Civil Society organisations on key health sector reform initiatives that strengthen the public health services.
- To assist civil society health advocates to actively engage with the development and implementation of health sector reform initiatives.
The Jan Swasthya Abhiyan is the Indian circle of the People’s Health Movement, a worldwide network. It consists of over 20 networks and 1000 organisations as well as a large number of individuals that endorse the Indian People’s Health Charter (2000), a consensus document that arose out of the First National Health Assembly held in December 2000 when concerned networks, organisations and individuals met to discuss the Health for All challenge.
As a part of this initiative public health activists from four states in India were trained on various aspects of health sector reforms.