What are the positive features of partnerships between civil society and the health sector?
Such partnerships can be mutually reinforcing. Attention must be paid to the quality of the partnership, the transparency and flow of information, and the decision-making processes that take place within the partnership.

Does civil society involvement make any difference to equity in health?
Equity outcomes are influenced by social power and capabilities, which are weakest among those with the greatest health needs. These weaknesses can be strengthened by civil society. This is particularly important in relation to allocating health resources. Effective civil participation requires the existence of mutually trusted and transparent mechanisms for allocating resources. Communities must have some level of local control over health resources but with support for the poor so that they can exercise their demands effectivly.

Can civil society make health services more responsive to communities?
Civil groups have organized people around patient rights and communities in order to identify their concerns about health services and to discuss them in joint health service-civil committees. Civic organizations can monitor excesses and corruption within health institutions and can bring these to state-civil fora, where they are trusted, to remedy the problems. They can also use other remedies outside the health system.

Where is the potential for success in civil society-health sector interactions?
Positive features exist within civil society, within health organizations and within health sector-civil interactions. There are also risks on both sides, which can be managed if the benefits are clear to both.

KEYWORDS: intersectoral action for health, policy accountability, vertical equity, resource allocation, fiscal decentralization, social funds, quality of care, patient rights


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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