“The minds and ideas of people is the greatest resource a community has”. Phil Bartle
The Alma ata declaration of September 12th, 1978 expressed the need for urgent action by all governments, all health and development workers, and the world community to protect and promote the health of all the people of the world, in its declaration No. 5 states “…universally accessible to individuals and families in the community through their full participation and at a cost that the community and country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development in the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination.”
The revised National Health Policy (2004) underscored the importance of community participation where it stated thus: “Governments of the Federation shall devise appropriate mechanisms for involving communities in the planning and implementation of services on matters affecting their health - District Health System, Ward Health System, Model PHC Centres, and Traditional Leaders Committee on EPI & PHC”.
WHAT IS COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION?
It means people in a community share in the responsibility of caring for their own health, in creating and preserving a healthy environment, in preventing factors that could threaten people’s health from getting a foothold in that community, and in doing their part for the maintenance of health in general.
Community participation also means people are encouraged to participate in making decisions about their own health, in identifying the health needs of their community and in considering the merits of alternative approaches to addressing those needs. This principle ensures respect for diversity. It also means the design and delivery of health care is flexible and responsive. Participation ensures effective and strategic planning for, and the evaluation of, health care services in a community. Community participation is one of the key ingredients of an empowered community. It is the community’s life blood, when communities engage their citizens and partners in community development they raise more resources, achieve more results, and develop in a more holistic and—ultimately—more beneficial way. Community participation, then, is critical to community success.
PRINCIPLES OF COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION
1. Many People Involved: The first and most obvious principle of participation is that many people are involved, not few people running the community affairs. 2. Many Centered: Many groups are involvement. Responsibilities are shared in a way that draws on the special talents and interests of organizations by assigning responsibility for independent action. In short, power and responsibility are decentralized in a participating community. 3. Business is open and advertized: Business is open to all and widely-publicized. Citizens are informed—by a variety of means—about the community’s work, and opportunities for citizens to find meaningful roles in contributing to that work. Secrecy— which only leads to suspicion, distrust, and ultimately to the death of community involvement—is strictly avoided. 4. Open to All Ideas: In community participation, there is no such thing as a bad idea. All ideas are welcomed and treated with respect. This honors the person and gives room for fresh ideas by encouraging all citizens to bring forth their best for the common good. 5. Inclusive and Diverse: No distinctions are made among various groups and personalities who offer themselves to community involvement. All persons are actively welcomed into useful roles, regardless of their colour, age, race, prior community involvement, level of education, occupation, personal reputation, handicap, language, appearance, religion, or any other factor. Participating communities know and recognize that, truly, we are all made equal,...