Can watch dogs become partners not just followers of instructions like pet dogs wagging their tails?
People, or their opinions or perceptions completely left out
Civil society is not from Mars! It is us and most of us fall into the definition – even a government bureaucrat is a parent!
To put out the fires
Engaging Civil Society_Roma Solomon_5.9.14
Global Health Practitioner Conference
Silver Spring, 9 May 2014
Dr. Roma Solomon
Individuals and organizations
independent of the government
Civil society includes…
CBOs & FBOs
How are we perceived??
Watch Dogs/Pet dogs?
Activists/Champions of rights?
How do we perceive
• Backbenchers ?
• Loud campaigners / Belligerent activists?
• Champions of the underdog ?
• Hesitant Do-gooders ?
• Spies & fault finders?
• Anti government ?
Equal partners with a supporting attitude
Technically sound and armed with data
What should be our perception?
Why should Civil Society be engaged?
Civil Society is usually understood as the social arena that
exists between the state and the individual or household *
Though it lacks the coercive or regulatory power of the state
and the economic power of the market, it provides the
social power or influence of ordinary
This social power/capital is our USP
* WHO Discussion Paper Dec. 2001
Key features of civil society
• Articulating citizens' interests and demands
• Defending rights
• Providing goods and services directly.
Civil society & Government
Expectations from each other?
• Is only the government expected to be
• Mutual respect for each others’
experience and potential to make
• Ability to see eye to eye and recognizing
each others’ limitations
CSOs provides excellent laboratories for
pioneering new methods and strategies in a
relatively efficacious and cost-effective manner.
They combine the spread and reach of
government with depth and flexibility - the
ideal method for achieving development
Potential of civil society
Harnessing this Potential
The India Polio Programme
• Government – Prime implementers
• WHO - Technical support & surveillance
• Rotary International – Advocacy & Funding
• Unicef & CORE– Communication & Social mobilization
The Polio Partnership
What was the need to engage
• Children were
• Rumours were
• Resistance was
Understanding of community needs
• Communities were being
taken for granted
• Communication was
• Baggage of “We know what is
good for you” unloaded
• Timing as per vaccinators’
• It was NOT positioned as a
• Community/leaders/institutions did not
believe in the program
• It was not a priority for families
• Suspicions about the vaccine
• Trust deficit between government &
Identification of Barriers
• The key - Equal
• NO blame game
• Timely response – put
out smaller fires before
• Give facts
Workers need to be
knowledge and the
ability to transfer this
knowledge to others
Knowledge leads to
change in attitude
Capacities of front
line staff were built
to analyse resistance
Shift from instructive to negotiation
of influencers –
• Strategies were
tailor made for
• Special initiatives
kept the program
exciting & alive for
Involvement of religious & other
• Religious institutions
engaged to handle
• Each query was heard
& responded to with
• Burning issues were
Religious scholars were able to counter negative
propaganda against immunization based on their
interpretation of the Quran and Hadees
Importance of Data
• Data collection and compilation
• Recording & documentation of successes and
All led to a strong MIS that supported planning
and implementation of effective activities
Declaration of A Polio-Free India
Sharing lessons with other
CORE Group Polio Project countries
Nigeria, S. Sudan, Angola, Ethiopia
Horn of Africa
Support in communication strategies,
disease surveillance, IEC material, M&E
systems, mHealth, etc
Using the Polio Legacy to improve
• Shoring up Routine Immunisation alongside
• Identifying High-risk groups and tracking
• Capacity building of frontline workers
Recognition at last!!
Traditionally CSOs have provided services to the
underserved but are usually left out of policy
making and planning.
GAVI formed a CSO Constituency
Providing a seat on the Board not only gave
recognition but also paved the way to the
engagement of CSOs in other health
GAVI’s Strategic Goal 2
Strengthening health systems to deliver
Under this goal, GAVI provided an umbrella
grant to the Steering Committee of the GAVI
CRS was nominated as the fund manager and
national level CSO platforms were formed in 23
countries for effective engagement in health
systems strengthening and immunisation.