Wednesday, November 04, 2015
Tools to improve maternal and child health are in essence not tools but power, citizen power! Citizen participation can help weed out problems plaguing maternal and child health services, thus bringing about positive changes. An Indonesia based foundation named Wahana Visi incorporated citizen feedback to improve maternal and child health in villages; a plan which earned them a grant through the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA).
Wahana Visi proposed to look into the high maternal mortality rate in the Nusa Tenggara Timur province in Eastern Indonesia and develop ways to solve the issues leading to it. Among the many problems, poor public services were one of the leading causes. Their programme has already been implemented in 3 districts of Nusa Tenggara Timur.
The programme coordinators observed that lack of awareness crippled the communities from knowing whether the healthcare services were below average or non-existent. So, they incorporated a novel method in their programme called ‘citizen voice and action’. As a part of this, facilitators would inform communities about minimum healthcare services and standards to be made available as per Government regulations.
Armed with a better understanding, the community members then voice their concerns by filling out score cards. The programme facilitators also check if the healthcare facilities meet minimum health standards. A report combining their evaluation and community feedback is then presented to the government at higher levels to advocate better services.
Although the programme, initiated in 2014, is in its nascent stages, it is already showing positive results. Healthcare workers have started reporting to work early and on time, whereas a local village government has allotted more budget to maternal and child health. Furthermore, previously households felt a pinch investing in costly delivery kits for safer childbirth, whereas now the government bears half the cost. Thus is the power of citizens feedback.
Improved transparency, innovation, and citizen participation to monitor outcomes of centrally funded programmes such as healthcare services is one of the main motives of GPSA. Wahana Visi’s programme rides high on social responsibility, one of the factors which seem to have helped them earn the GPSA grant.
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