What contribution does civil society make to dealing with priority health problems?

What we have seen so far shows that civil society can contribute to managing public health problems by:

  • transforming public understanding and attitudes and promoting healthy public choices;
  • informing health systems about community perceptions, preferences and actions and enhancing the social and cultural appropriateness of health actions;
  • extending the outreach of health systems to under-served groups;
  • building more effective interactions between health services and clients at individual and collective levels;
  • extending the continuum of health management and outreach into the community;
  • enhancing community control over and commitment to health interventions.

These roles can be applied to major public health problems, such as TB, malaria and HIV/AIDS, as exemplified in Table 3.

It is important that the health sector does not promote 'from the top' any roles that it wants civil society to take. There must first be dialogue with civic stakeholders.



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Enhancing civil society

Priority health problems

Facilitating roles
Interactive exercise

Policy accountability

Equity in health
Responding to communities
The potential for success
Interactive exercise