Community Health Dialogue Kenya

By Robinson Karuga,

Kenya’s Community Health Strategy (CHS) emphasizes the role of community partnership and participation in health and development. One of the processes to empower communities to improve their health and lives is community health dialogue.

However, since the launch of CHS in 2006, no clear community health dialogue guidelines have been developed. In response to this gap, the Community Health Unit of the Ministry of Health convened a 3 day workshop in Nakuru County - in November 2015 - to develop these guidelines. The workshop included participants involved in community health research, policy makers in National and County government, and non-state actors.

Enriching discussions during the plenary sessions revealed that as much as all the partners in the workshop were invested in enhancing community participation, each partner had their own approach to community dialogue and each had different tools for documenting dialogue at community level. The approaches varied from community conversations, chiefs barazas, community score cards, to community based education. This demonstrated a clear need for harmonization of community health dialogue.

At the end of the three day workshop, participants had developed a draft guideline that aimed at creating a common understanding of how to conduct community health dialogue among all stakeholders. The draft guideline also provides a clear and informed road map for planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation. At the moment, Counties and non-state actors do not have a standardized and structured approach to conducting community health dialogue but this draft guideline will be available in early-2016. This will be a useful resource for all who are implementing community health dialogue in Kenya and potentially beyond.

The second REACHOUT Quality Improvement (QI) Cycle will largely focus on embedding QI in Kitui and Nairobi County and enhancing community participation.  This research was welcomed by all participants and was lauded as a platform for providing evidence on the most efficient way of strengthening community participation in health matters at community level.

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