Can civil society make health services more responsive to communities?

Civic groups have organized people around patient rights…

Quality of care is an issue that has preoccupied people as 'consumers' of health services. It has led to campaigns such as that of Consumers International which profile patient rights as a means of drawing attention to deviations, as perceived by the public, from acceptable standards of care.

The patient rights charter provides an important rights-based approach in health. It often depends, though, on the willingness of individuals to take legal or other remedies. This willingness is weaker among poorer groups, where people may fear being victimised if they take up disputes with health services. This approach may target individual services or health workers, when the problems may have been caused by decisions on health systems and resource allocations that are taken at much higher levels.

It is, however, important to ensure that, even while they transfer capacities, neither civil society nor the state take over the community role (Frigenti et al., 1998).


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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