Alam Kiron/MCHIP

Community Health and Civil Society Engagement

Effective community-based approaches are critical to improving reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health. They require strengthening the capacity of health systems to engage communities, and building strong systems of service delivery and social and behavior change outside of health facilities to reach those not currently accessing key health services.

MCSP promotes the institutionalization of community health as a central component of country health systems. We work to link community health and health systems strengthening efforts, taking an expanded view of what a health system is—including not only health services, but all actors involved in protecting and building health (health promotion). The Program takes into account the centrality of household and community production of health, underlying the health promotion agenda, as well as evidence for effective community-based strategies to end preventable child and maternal deaths.

In the full continuum of RMNCH care and services, MCSP supports health promotion, prevention and curative service delivery in communities and with communities, and participation through various groups. We also contribute to global learning on effective and sustainable practices in community health, giving close attention to the fit between program strategies and country realities.

MCSP has developed an approach — called Viable, Integrated Community Health Platforms — to strengthen national institutionalization of community health. The component “lenses” of this model are intended to illuminate essential elements that community health strategies need to systematically address to advance comprehensiveness of services, sustainability and high-quality care.

These elements include:

  • Optimizing integrated packages of RMNCH interventions at the community level;
  • Strengthening the community health worker workforce and its support through community infrastructure, including effective community engagement and participation;
  • Supporting more effective government, civil society, and private partnerships to institutionalize and coordinate community health and to build capacity and shared ownership; and
  • Placing emphasis on use of local information for equity, learning and adaptation.

Through the CORE Group, MCSP is able to tap into tools and a network of more than 70 organizations that foster learning, idea sharing, and capacity building. This work is facilitated through holding global and U.S.-based conferences, conducting national and regional meetings, and linking to the Community Health Network and Technical Working Groups.

To download MCSP’s community health and civil society engagement fact sheet, click here.

Key Results

  • MCSP collaborated with the World Health Organization on Implementation Principles for Social, Behavioral, and Community Engagement Interventions; Civil Society Engagement Strategy; Social Accountability Guide; and technical coordination and design leadership for Institutionalizing Community Health Conference.
  • The Program has worked in several countries (Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Mozambique, and Rwanda) on community mobilization and capacity-strengthening activities through various approaches, including the use of community action cycle, and building on existing civil society organization and community structures in order to increase demand and access to high-quality RMNCH services.
  • At the national level, MCSP develops policies and strategies on community health, such as: infant and young child feeding and baby-friendly community/hospital initiatives; permissive policies to allow community health workers to diagnose and treatment pneumonia and malaria; and community mobilization framework. The Program has also developed community engagement and mobilization strategy and integrate them to national community health policy in Guinea, and is supporting the same process in Rwanda and Haiti.
  • In Uganda, the Program utilized community microplanning to identify the access barriers for hard-to-reach populations and actively monitored project activities to ensure that all communities are reached at least once per quarter with services, through RED/REC.
  • In Malawi, MCSP is helping to promote the integration of social accountability strategies in health.
  • The Program also adapted and availed the Community Health Tools and Resources list.
Maternal Child Survival Program
Maternal and Child Survival Program