Participatory approaches are becoming increasingly important in the field of health, and many organizations, governments and donors have recognized the need to increase stakeholder involvement to ensure sustainable and real change. However, commitment to participation is often lacking and participatory processes, if applied, tend to be short-term and discrete, especially in institutional settings. Rarely, for example, are stakeholders involved in long-term monitoring and evaluation activities, due the time-consuming nature of participation, and to perceptions on the part of donors and other decision-makers that participation lacks the rigor and objectivity of external evaluation. This paper describes the strategies used by an international reproductive health organization to collaborate with local stakeholders in a long-term participatory approach to quality improvement, focusing on defining quality of care, identifying problems in health facilities, setting goals and seeking solutions to those problems, tracking changes in quality over time, and feeding this monitoring and evaluation information back into the quality improvement process. The paper also illustrates how greater participation was achieved over time as local stakeholders moved away from traditional models and relationships and started working together to meet their quality improvement goals. The paper argues that participatory techniques are essential if the real needs of clients are to be met through sustained change and continuous quality improvement at the site level.
Social Science & Medicine – Elsevier
Published: Jul 1, 2002
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