Unlocking community capabilities
The unlocking community capabilities theme systematically examines how communities can be active participants in the planning, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of their health system, by identifying and mobilising individual and collective capabilities in different social, political, and institutional environments.
Defining community capabilities
Communities are groups of people having common interests, resources, beliefs, needs, occupations or other social conditions that characterise the identity of members and affect their cohesiveness. FHS focuses on communities that live in a particular geographic area, but also examines other social characteristics of communities. The term ‘community capability’ encompasses key concepts of empowerment, mobilisation, social capital and capacity building.
- Developing reproducible ways of measuring community capabilities to understand the social relations and resources within and across communities, including the status, social relations and entitlements of disadvantaged populations.
- Developing reproducible ways of changing community capabilities as a process and outcome of health systems interventions by improving linkages, strengthening monitoring, securing resources, improving resilience, and changing social norms.
- Having robust measures of change in community capabilities and developing research methodologies to understand pathways for change in community capabilities and how they relate to changes in health systems.
Defining an appropriate model of health systems ethics relevant to long-term engagements with communities, especially in low-resource settings.
Recent FHS publications on 'unlocking community capabilities'
Tetui M, Coe A-B, Hurtig A-K, Ekirapa-Kiracho E and Kiwanuka SN (2017) Experiences of using a participatory action research approach to strengthen district local capacity in Eastern Uganda, Global Health Action, 10:sup4, 1346038, DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2017.1346038
To achieve a sustained improvement in health outcomes, the way health interventions are designed and implemented is critical. A participatory action research approach is applauded for building local capacity such as health management. Thereby increasing the chances of sustaining health interventions. This study explored stakeholder experiences of using PAR to implement an intervention meant to strengthen the local district capacity.
Ekirapa-Kiracho E, Paina L, Kananura RM, Mutebi A, Jane P, Tumuhairwe J, Tetui M and Kiwanuka SN (2017) ‘Nurture the sprouting bud; do not uproot it’. Using saving groups to save for maternal and newborn health: lessons from rural Eastern Uganda, Global Health Action, 10:sup4, 1347311, DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2017.1347311
Saving groups are increasingly being used to save in many developing countries. However, there is limited literature about how they can be exploited to improve maternal and newborn health. This paper describes saving practices, factors that encourage and constrain saving with saving groups, and lessons learnt while supporting communities to save through saving groups.
Mutebi A, Kananura RM, Ekirapa-Kiracho E, Bua J, Kiwanuka SN, Nammazi G, Paina L and Tetui M (2017) Characteristics of community savings groups in rural Eastern Uganda: opportunities for improving access to maternal health services, Global Health Action, 10:sup4, 1347363, DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2017.1347363
Rural populations in Uganda have limited access to formal financial Institutions, but a growing majority belong to saving groups. These saving groups could have the potential to improve household income and access to health services. This article aimed to understand organizational characteristics, benefits and challenges, of savings groups in rural Uganda.
Namazzi G, Okuga M, Tetui M, Kananura RM, Kakaire A, Namutamba S, Mutebi A, Kiwanuka SN, Ekirapa-Kiracho E and Waiswa P (2017) Working with community health workers to improve maternal and newborn health outcomes: implementation and scale-up lessons from eastern Uganda, Global Health Action, 10:sup4, 1345495, DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2017.1345495
Preventable maternal and newborn deaths can be averted through simple evidence-based interventions, such as the use of community health workers (CHWs), also known in Uganda as village health teams. However, the CHW strategy faces implementation challenges regarding training packages, supervision, and motivation. This paper explores knowledge levels of CHWs, describes the coverage of home visits, and shares lessons learnt from setting up and implementing the CHW strategy.
Health systems research is increasingly being conducted in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Such research should aim to reduce health disparities between and within countries as a matter of global justice. For such research to do so, ethical guidance that is consistent with egalitarian theories of social justice proposes it ought to (amongst other things) focus on worst-off countries and research populations. Yet who constitutes the worst-off is not well-defined.
Ghosh U, Bose S, Bramhachari R and Mandal S (2016) Expressing collective voices on children’s health: photovoice exploration with mothers of young children from the Indian Sundarbans, BMC Health Services Research, 16:1866, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1866-8
The Indian Sundarbans is marked by inhospitable terrain and frequent climatic shocks which jointly hinder access to health care. Community members, and women in particular, have few means to communicate their concerns to local decision makers. Photovoice is one way in which communities can raise their local health challenges with decision makers. This study unlocks mothers’ voices on the determinants of their children’s health to inform local level decision-making on child health issues in the Indian Sundarbans.
Bhuiya A, Hanifi SMA and Hoque S (2016) Unlocking community capability through promotion of self-help for health: experience from Chakaria, Bangladesh, BMC Health Services Research, 16:1865, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1865-9
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 organization ICDDR,B implemented a project “self-help for health,” to work with existing rural self-help organizations (SHOs). SHOs are organizations formed by villagers for their well-being through their own initiatives without external material help. This paper describes the project’s implementation, impact, and reflective learnings.
Ekirapa-Kiracho E, Namazzi G, Tetui M, Mutebi A, Waiswa P, Oo H, Peters DH and George AS (2016) Unlocking community capabilities for improving maternal and newborn health: participatory action research to improve birth preparedness, health facility access, and newborn care in rural Uganda, BMC Health Services Research, 16:1864, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1864-x
Community capacities and resources must be harnessed to complement supply side initiatives addressing high maternal and neonatal mortality rates in Uganda. This paper reflects on gains, challenges and lessons learnt from working with communities to improve maternal and newborn health in rural Uganda.