Community Participation and Maternal Health: Case Studies from Peru and Malawi
Vidal, Nicole L.
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Vidal, N. & Uny, I. (2014) Community Participation and Maternal Health: Case Studies from Peru and Malawi, British Global and Travel Health Association Journal, vol. 23, , pp. 35-38,
This article examines the role of community participation in improving maternal health outcomes in low and middle income countries. Global interventions emphasising facility-based care and institutional deliveries have undoubtedly resulted in maternal health improvements in many regions. Despite some of these advances however, maternal mortality remains a significant problem among poorer disadvantaged communities. In settings where socio-cultural and systemic barriers affect the accessibility and quality of maternal health services, facility-based care is still largely inaccessible to many women. The lack of progress towards improving maternal health services in these areas indicates possible gaps in such approaches. The role of community participation in the development and implementation of maternal health interventions is thus explored as a complement to facility-based interventions. Drawin g on the authors' respective on-going research in Peru and Malawi, this article examines the strengths and limitations of community participation in support of maternal health. The country examples highlight the importance of communities taking part in the development and implementation of activities designed to meet their health needs. Collaboration between communities and health professionals is identified as an essential component to improving the accessibility and quality of maternal health services. Accordingly, community level providers of care can be a valuable resource to their communities provided they receive sufficient support from the health system.