by Zareen Afridi | 17 FEB 2018
An event titled ‘National Consultation on Community Action for Health: Deliberating Pathways for Scaling Up’. The event was organised by the Advisory Group on Community Action (AGCA) on behalf of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW). The event was conducted to invoke the importance of communities in societies to help achieve health specific goals. The importance of a community was highlighted which can help as being one accountable body responsible for community action, innovation, combating challenges and framing effective solutions. The community can also play a vital role in providing recommendations and plans of action for the success of community action for health (CAH) process under the National Health Mission.
CAH is one of the newly established pillar of National Health Mission (NHM). Its main objective is to place people at the centre of all health related processes to ensure that the needs and rights of each individual within the community are fulfilled. This is beneficial for the communities as it gives them an opportunity to participate in such events and provide their feedback about the trajectory of work by the NHM in their area. This brings the actual public into the ‘public health’.
At present, CAH processes are being implemented in 22 states of the country that covers 2,02,162 villages across 353 districts. This covers 32% of all the villages and 54% of all the districts in the country. The event was attended by representatives of MoHFW, State National Health Mission Directors, State Nodal Officers, representatives of civil society organisations and public health experts. Mr. Manoj Jhalani, Additional Secretary and Mission Director of NHM, MoHFW discussed the progress of CAH. “The beginning of community monitoring of service delivery by using health report cards has now reached every nook and corner and progressed as a comprehensive process that fills the gap of service delivery with participatory planning by the communities”, he said.
Mr. Manohar Agnani, Joint Secretary Policy, MoHFW said the only solution that can deliver adequate and quality health services is working with the communities on a grass root level. Even to ensure planning and monitoring process or addressal of grievances of people, community plays a vital role. Mr Agnani encouraged all state mission directors and program directors to give priority to CAH.
Ms. Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of Population Foundation of India (PFI) and AGCA member shed light on the journey of community action for health in becoming one of the fastest community let initiatives globally. The CAH is a unique example which successfully collaborates government and civil society organisation and brings ‘the public into public health’. Ms Muttreja emphasizes that in order to attain a wider reachability, we need a strong cadre of people in every state that support community building. Another important point to ponder as the emergence and functioning of a redressal mechanism without which CAH will be bear unripe fruits.
Population Foundation of India is the host of the Secretary of AGCA which was substituted by MoHFW in 2005. PFI provides guidance on community processes initiatives particularly related to National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). This national NGO was established in 1970 by a group of socially committed industrialists under the leadership of Mr. JRD Tata and Dr. Bharat Ram. The role of Advisory Group on Community Action (AGCA) is to provide feedback on current plan implementation, to review policy decisions, develop new models of community action and recommends for further adoption to national and state governments. The AGCA is presently the backbone for providing technical support to 22 state governments for strengthening and implementation of CAH under the National Health Mission.
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