Forging alliances between the community and the health care workers
The health systems reflect the social hierarchies and hegemonies of power that are entrenched in the larger socio-political systems. Frontline health care workers – traditional birth attendants, community health workers (CHW), nurses and midwives the foundational building blocks of the health care systems. The community functions as a critical space for the interface of citizens (community members) and health workers. While some health care workers form the part of the formal health care system (such as nurses) others in several countries are either are not recognised or de-legitimised as in the case of traditional birth attendants in India. Most of those who work in institutional and formal settings such as public or public health institutions suffer due to job insecurity and denial of statutory minimum wages. Both these categories of health care workers are adversely affected due to the neo-liberal policies that have increased privatization of health care services and informalisation in the health care workforce. Some of the severe consequences of these policies are unfolded in the violation of basic rights in conditions of employment (wages, hours of work, job insecurity), occupational conditions (sexual and other harassments), easy victimization for the malpractices and misconducts of medical professionals etc. They too get targeted and are under surveillance for joining associations or unions for collectively demanding accountability from the employers or the State for their own dignity and rights as health care workers. More often than not, the communities and health care workers are made to relate to each other in hostility and antagonism, instead of solidarity, and such fragmentation cumulatively affects the rights of both the communities and health care workers.
The COPASAH Symposium will provide a platform for health care workers to amplify their voice and to share their experiences in the provision of quality health services, governance and accountability of the health systems. Spaces will be made available for interactions and dialogue between health care workers and community will provide for mutually sharing of views and challenges faced by them. The symposium will aim at identifying and leveraging collaborative spaces between the two, for strengthening community-centered health systems.