George AS, Scott K, Mehra V and Sriram V (2016) Synergies, strengths and challenges: findings on community capability from a systematic health systems research literature review, BMC Health Services Research, 16:1860, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1860-1
Community capability is the combined influence of a community’s social systems and collective resources that can address community problems and broaden community opportunities. We frame it as consisting of three domains that together support community empowerment: what communities have; how communities act; and for whom communities act. We sought to further understand these domains through a secondary analysis of a previous systematic review on community participation in health systems interventions in low and middle income countries (LMICs).
George AS, Scott K, Sarriot E, Kanjilal B and Peters DH (2016) Unlocking community capabilities across health systems in low- and middle-income countries: lessons learned from research and reflective practice, BMC Health Services Research, 16:1859, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1859-7
The right and responsibility of communities to participate in health service delivery was enshrined in the 1978 Alma Ata declaration and continues to feature centrally in health systems debates today. Communities are a vital part of people-centred health systems and their engagement is critical to realizing the diverse health targets prioritised by the Sustainable Development Goals and the commitments made to Universal Health Coverage. Community members’ intimate knowledge of local needs and adaptive capacities are essential in constructively harnessing global transformations related to epidemiological and demographic transitions, urbanization, migration, technological innovation and climate change. Effective community partnerships and governance processes that underpin community capability also strengthen local resilience, enabling communities to better manage shocks, sustain gains, and advocate for their needs through linkages to authorities and services. This is particularly important given how power relations mark broader contexts of resource scarcity and concentration, struggles related to social liberties and other types of ongoing conflicts.
In Future Health Systems, we focused on communities as active service delivery participants across a wide variety of contexts. In this brief, we reflect on the process of unlocking community capabilities, the key actors involved, and the productive tensions within community partnerships forged to build more responsive, resilient and equitable health systems.