Involving Communities in Health Programmes

Health Committee Meeting in Magwi County

Health Committee Meeting in Magwi County

Aid Works recently partnered with Skills for South Sudan to assess how the South Sudan Health Pooled Fund (HPF)* was involving local communities in its healthcare programme. The aim of the assessment was to:

+ review community activities already being implemented,
+ review the relevant government policies available,
+ identify opportunities for further community activities, and
+ develop a twelve month plan for getting communities even more involved in the programme.

The assessment was participatory, with Aid Works and Skills for South Sudan seeking advice from the Ministry of Health, collecting information from a large number of NGOs which had consulted directly with the communities in their programme areas, and running an internal workshop with HPF staff.

We found that NGOs have made a lot of progress in establishing community structures through local health committees. NGOs have had substantial success in involving communities in healthcare through information sharing, joint planning and day-to-day monitoring of health facilities. Excitingly, a successful pilot programme for the Prevention of Post-Partum Haemorrhage – run by Jhpiego – is being expanded across the country. For more information on this interesting development, see this article in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

There are many opportunities for involving communities even more: in developing stronger referral links with the community; improving collaboration between the government, community and NGOs; developing government policies; and developing a standardised training programme for community members involved in healthcare activities, such as Home Health Promoters and Community Nutrition Volunteers.

As a result of the assessment, the Community Healthcare Technical Working Group for South Sudan was started, and we look forward to hearing about their progress in the future.

* The HPF is a three and a half year fund, currently supported by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the British Government’s Department for International Development (DFID), the European Commission (EC) and the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The HPF supports services in six of South Sudan’s ten states: Eastern Equatoria, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, Unity and Lakes states.