Recognising that interventions for healthcare cannot be sustained without community involvement or government support, RSPN works hard to link the two together by developing mechanisms for local accountability through its LSOs. Funded by John Snow Incorporated through USAID, RSPN’s four-year Health Systems Strengthening project aims to increase the outreach of health services in rural communities of Sindh.
Through its partner RSPs, NRSP and TRDP, the project is currently being implemented in 5 districts of Sindh; Thatta, Tando Allah Yar, Dadu, Umarkot and Tharparkar, and will be scaled to an additional 5 districts in the project’s second year. The project aims to strengthen the health systems of these areas by building the capacity of Local Support Organisations (LSOs) and union council health committees so that they can engage with healthcare providers and officials to raise issues and work together for their resolution. Accountability forums have been established in 100 union councils at the village level as well as the union council level to tackle issues faced by rural communities in access to healthcare and family planning services. District health networks, comprising of LSOs and union council health committees as well as other NGOs in the area that are working in the health sector, will lobby with the District Health and Population Management Teams for the adequate allocation of resources so that quality healthcare services are provided in rural areas.
Additionally, the efforts of the Department of Health and the Population Welfare Department in enhancing the level of health services provided to under served rural areas will be strengthened by providing opportunities for healthcare workers to develop their skills. In this regard, innovative pilots are being designed for the government’s Lady Health Workers, which include training them to become Community Midwives and helping them set up clinics after their training. Similarly, Traditional Birth Attendants will also be trained on safe birthing practices and contraception, and will be linked with health facilities so that they can refer complicated birth cases there.
Village Health Committees (VHCs) have been formed in the project villages, consisting of male and female members of the community who meet once every three months to discuss health issues being faced in their areas. Each VHC has been given information about health facilities and services available nearby. As part of the project, the people’s feedback regarding the availability and quality of health care providers and services is also documented. This information is passed on to the union council health committees, who use it during their meetings with the district health networks and the District Health and Population Management Teams.
Initiated in April 2013, and representing $ 2.2 million in assistance, this four year project will lead to greater availability and access to health services in under served areas of rural Sindh.
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