Have countries learned lessons on how to build on communities in dealing with health and social issues? Are the essential structures and attitudes in place to honour the active roles of communities in health and support them? Are our health systems really calibrated enough locally and do they invest in public health grounded in communities? Is community learning more profound in the global south, compared to the global north?
In this episode of the Action for Reset Dialogues, Dr. Sanghita Bhattacharrya of the Public Health Foundation of India and livelong fighter for stronger community agency in health speaks with Dr. Asha George, South Africa Research Chair in Health Systems, Complexity and Social Change, and chair of Health Systems Global (2018-2020). The dialogue touches on the fundamentals for non-extractive community engagement, highlights the importance of trust, the values of listening, and the ‘histories of prior engagement’. It draws on examples from different parts of the world to stress the long haul of building community agency in health.
Dr. Sanghita Bhattacharyya is Senior Public Health Specialist with 15 years’ experience and her research interests in maternal and child health, quality of healthcare, health management information system, child nutrition and community participation. She has considerable field exposure and has worked closely with civil society organizations and provided technical assistance to state governments. She has led a number of research projects in different states of India, supported by multiple donors like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, NIPI, MRC- DFID. She is the recipient of the Senior Research Fellowship awarded by the University Grants Commission, India and Wellcome trust fellowship at University of Oxford. She has an M.Phil and PhD. in demography and several publications in peer-reviewed journals. She is leading the Community of Practice (CoP) on Community Health for The Collectivity platform.
Dr. Asha George is a qualitative researcher engaged with health systems to advance health and social justice in low- and middle-income countries. With a gender and rights lens, she focuses on the frontline interface and governance of services taking into consideration community and health worker perspectives. She joined the University of Western Cape School of Public Health in 2016 as the South African Research Chair in Health Systems, Complexity and Social Change and continues at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health as an Adjunct Professor. She has worked as an advisor to UNICEF, WHO and USAID on community based approaches since 2007. Prior to that while based in India, she partnered with allies across community, district, state and national health systems to advance maternal health from a gender and rights perspective. Her work in public health started in 1994, when she returned to Mexico to support government ministries and the UN